AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Newcastle queue to blow out amid rush for capacity

<p>The vessel queue at the port of Newcastle is expected to return to more than 40 this month as coal companies look to ship 1.7m tonnes more coal than the network can accommodate. </p> <p>Coal companies have collectively notified Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) that they want to export up to 7.9m tonnes in November, about 300,000 tonnes higher than the port’s record monthly trade.</p> <p>But PWCS general manager Graham Davidson said planned maintenance and upgrades during November would leave the network with capacity for just 6.2m tonnes.</p> <p>Weather interruptions during September had pushed the vessel queue out to 42, the highest level in more than two years, before the queue eased to 28 early this week.</p> <p>Six days of maintenance during November, including the commissioning of the $67m Sandgate rail flyover, is the main limit on capacity in November.</p> <p>Demand from coal companies had been more than 1m tonnes higher, with official Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team (HVCCLT) information suggesting last month that more than 8.9m tonnes of coal would be demanded in November.</p> <p>But HVCCLT general manager Anthony Pitt had predicted that actual demand would be lower.</p> <p>The logistics team believes it will have capacity for 90.5m tonnes in 2007, up from 85m tonnes this year.</p> <p>The completion of a PWCS expansion program &#8211 including additional stockpiling and a new stacker and conveyor &#8211 will push capacity towards the mid-90m tonne mark.</p> <br />