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Coal exports pushing Queensland capacity to the brink

Supplier: Locker Group
22 September, 2014

It looks like there won't be a decrease in demand for mining products anytime soon, at least when it comes to coal.

A recent release from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) found that the Sunshine State is only a few years away from using its coal export capacity.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche recently told the Central Highlands Development Committee that Queensland coal port operators have reported a total of 209 million tonnes in coal exports during 2013-14.

"This is 25 million tonnes above the record set in 2009-10 and almost 30 million tonnes more than what passed through Queensland export coal terminals in 2012-13," Mr Roche said, according to a July 25 media release.

"This is clear evidence of the coal industry's transition to an export production phase after an unprecedented period of new investment."

Even with less than favourable prices, the value of Queensland coal exports during this financial year is predicted to be more than $24 billion.

"As predicted, volume is replacing price and keeping mines open in the toughest operating environment the industry has faced since the turn of the century," Mr Roche continued.

However, while this is great news for the mining products industry, as well as resources employment, it may also lead to issues regarding having enough ships and space.

Mr Roche said that during 2013-14, 84 per cent of port capacity was used. Thanks to a growth in China's electricity demand, it is expected that Queensland will use up 100 per cent of its port capacity over the next handful of years.

While it will be up to the coal industry and the state to work out how to face this challenge, mining organisations should feel confident in the meantime that not having enough space for exports is a much better problem to have than having too much.