AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Newcastle waiting times double in less than a month

<p>Ships waiting off the coast of Newcastle are waiting more than five days longer to enter the port than they were four weeks ago.</p> <p>This is despite the port being close to a new record for monthly coal volumes.</p> <p>The Newcastle Port Corporation’s (NPC) weekly operations report says the average waiting time for coal ships this week is 8.94 days, down slightly from just over nine days reported last week.</p> <p>Coal ships were waiting on average 3.4 days during the second-last week of June.</p> <p>The port handled 21 coal ships last week. There are now 17 ships waiting off the coast. </p> <p>Its operations report suggests that the port is on track to export 7.75m tonnes of coal for July, which would break the 7.64m tonne record set in October last year.</p> <p>But figures from Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), which manages the two coal terminals at the port, indicate the total volume could fall just short, with 7.59m tonnes projected.</p> <p>Reuters had reported this week that the port’s coal exports had slowed because of production problems at Hunter Valley mines and delays because of rail maintenance.</p> <p>But an NPC spokesperson said this morning (Wednesday, July 19) that any changes to turnover times were &#8220part of the natural variation&#8221 of the port.</p> <p>There were &#8220no issues around at the moment&#8221 that warranted concern, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>Graham Davidson, from PWCS, also said there were no problems facing the port. </p> <p>"Patterns of aggregate coal production and throughput this year are similar to previous years," he said. </p> <p>"Any specific questions to do with the production of coal from the Hunter Valley mines are best referred to the producers of the coal, not the supply chain transport companies."</p> <p>Mr Davidson said coal chain capacity had been made available to the export industry in line with the capacity declared at the start of the year. </p> <p>"The members of the Coal Chain Logistics Team are on target to make available to the industry more than 86m tonnes of annualised export capacity in 2006," he said.&#8224 </p> <p>"Year-to-date the export rate is hovering around the 80mtpa rate and coal chain infrastructure has not been a constraint to export throughput.&#8224 </p> <p>"Exports in July are running at over 90mtpa, in line with forecast system capacity, and cargo assembly and vessel loading performance at the port are running well."</p> <p>The port reached a trade record in 2005&#4706 with 80.3m tonnes of coal, which brought it a record total throughput of 85.6m tonnes. </p> <br />