Paul Braven

Gladstone Port coal record looming, exports up 12%

COAL exports from Gladstone's port have taken a leap, with more than seven million tonnes leaving the wharves in November.

That increase is 12% ahead of October's tonnage when 5.94 million tonnes were exported. The November total was 7.2 million.

Shipping destinations China, Japan and South Korea increased their purchases during the month.

Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive officer Craig Doyle said it was almost certain the port would export record tonnage by the end of the financial year, at the end of June 2016.

"We are in a similar position to where we have been for the last couple of years," he said. "Our tonnage is above plan at this stage of the year and, with the Wiggins Island Export Coal Terminal continuing to ramp up, we can expect to see more than 70 million tonnes go through the port before the end of June.

"Volume is our friend.

"Our customers are long-held customers and they are working their way through the slump in coal prices by increasing production.

"They have fixed costs and increased production helps improve profitability.

"It's a far greater problem for new mines trying to open up as the start-up costs are significant."

Mr Doyle said there would always be a demand for coal from Queensland mines because of its higher quality and energy efficiency in comparison to the coal from countries we export to.

The port exported 66.5 million tonnes of coal from January to November, an increase from the 64.2 million tonnes for the same period in 2014.

Japan was the port's main customer for the month, picking up 2.08 million tonnes, an increase of 23% from October.

South Korean buyers took delivery of 1.8 million tonnes, up 28% from the October level.

The country has been increasing its coal purchases from Gladstone this year with its January to November uptake 10.9 million tonnes against nine million for the same period last year.

China exports have increased by 26% in November to 1.2 million tonnes against 956,000 tonnes in October.

However, the export figures to China were well down in the January-November period at 10.8 million tonnes against the 2014 figure of 15.33 million tonnes.

Exports to India have also slowed to 1.13 million tonnes, 11.5% down from the October figure of 1.28 million.

However, exports to India were the port's second largest for the year, with 13.46 million tonnes between January and November, against 11.8 million in the same period in 2014.

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