Environment and Sustainability, Freight Rail

Plenty of life in Old King Coal

A new monthly coal export record was set in December at the Port of Newcastle, helping the port achieve an annual record for trade in the 2016 calendar year.

Newcastle handled just under 168 million tonnes of trade in 2016, up 3.8 million tonnes on 2015, a 2% rise. This was driven by 161 million tonnes of coal exports, and a near-doubling in wheat exports to 761,000 tonnes.

Fuel imports rose 15% to 1.7 million tonnes on the year.

December 2016 saw 15.9 million tonnes of coal exported, breaking the old monthly record of 15.8 million tonnes set in December 2014.

Port of Newcastle chief executive officer Geoff Crowe said the record trade was a win for the Hunter region, and said he is confident the port will remain “pivotal” to the region’s economic success.

“This is a great result for the Port, the Hunter region and the state, and we continue to work with industry and businesses throughout our New South Wales catchment area to deliver new trade,” Crowe said.

“By trade volume, the Port of Newcastle is Australia’s third largest port and is ranked 24th in the world, and we have huge capacity for further diversification and growth, with 200 hectares of vacant land and a shipping channel which can handle double the current ship numbers.”

Crowe said the port authority would continue to invest in maintaining the port to optimise its use, “including through challenging weather events and peak times”.

Along with coal, wheat and fuel, the port also handles minerals, other agriculture, meat, timber, steel and aluminium.

2,258 ship visits were made to the port in 2016.