Storm shuts down world’s biggest coal port

Australia’s Newcastle port, the world’s biggest coal export port, has stopped all ship movements due to a cyclonic storm lashing the country’s east coast, a port spokeswoman said yesterday.

“Due to the weather event, no shipping movements occurred yesterday (Tuesday) and port operations also paused,” the spokeswoman said. “No shipping movements have occurred today (Wednesday).”

Seven coal ships are waiting to leave the port, four from terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services and three from a terminal run by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG).

The port operators declined to comment on how many coal ships were waiting offshore to pick up their cargoes from the port, which last year exported 159 million tonnes of thermal and steel-making coal.

NCIG expected to start receiving trains again on Wednesday night, NCIG spokesman Chris Ford said.

Prices for coal cargoes delivered next month from Newcastle have soared 10 percent since the beginning of the week to $68 a tonne as traders expected export delays due to the storm.

Exporters through Newcastle include BHP Billiton Ltd , Glencore Plc, Rio Tinto Ltd , Peabody Energy Corp, China’s Yancoal Australia Ltd and Whitehaven Coal Ltd.

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