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Port of Newcastle’s record growth underpinned by coal exports

World Coal,

The port of Newcastle exported a record 142.6 million t of coal in 2012 – 2013, a 17% increase on 2011 – 12. The port’s coal exports also hit a 6-week high of 3.39 million t at the end of August.

In the last week of August alone, 40 ships entered the port and loaded coal exports at Newcastle’s three coal terminals.

The two coal terminals of Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) loaded 2.2 million t of coal onto incoming ships, with the remaining 1.19 million t loaded from the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) facility.

Based on current terminal demand, the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator said in a recent report that it expects the queue at Newcastle to be 25 ships at the end of September.

Coal underpins growth

It has been a record year for the Port of Newcastle, with an increase of nearly 16% in total trade handled from the previous year. The port has seen growth in total tonnage handled year on year for the past 13 years.

The total value of trade in 2012 – 13, incorporating more than 40 commodities was AU$ 19.1 billion.

The increase was underpinned by a continues strong demand for coal exports. Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan accounted for 94% of the port’s total coal exports.

Possible privatisation

The Government of New South Wales recently unveiled plans to offer a long-term lease for the port of Newcastle as part of a plan to raise funds for infrastructure projects.

The move comes after sale of 99-year leases for the ports of Kembla and Botany in April, which raised AU$ 5.06 billion.

Not all are in favour of the proposed move. Opinion is divided over what the best course of action is for the state.

Strike action halted

Workers at the Port Waratah coal shipment facility have been on intermittent strikes since mid-May. Around 220 workers have been participating in the industrial action, standing against aspects of a proposed new workplace agreement.

However, the strike action has now been halted. Unions representing the workers said it was up to union members to decide what the union’s next course of action would be. Discussions between union and employers have so far settled most of the contentious matters, according to Glen Williams, secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia’s (MUA) Newcastle branch.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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