Metals News
BHP-Mitsubishi Coal Port May Take 6 Weeks to Restart (Update2)
industry news
Mar 24,2010

NEWYORK, Mar. 24 -- BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world's largest steelmaking coal exporter, said it may take as long as six weeks for the Hay Point port to resume full operations after damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Ului.

The alliance has declared force majeure and notified customers it will miss shipments, Amanda Buckley, Melbourne- based spokeswoman for BHP, said in a statement. The rail line serving Hay Point in Australia's Queensland state and the neighboring Dalrymple Bay port will reopen at 6 p.m. today, QRNational Coal said in an e-mailed statement.

Cyclone Ului made landfall on Australia's northeastern coast early on March 21, with winds gusting to 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour, damaging houses, triggering blackouts and closing ports and railway lines. Hay Point has two berths and a capacity to export 44 million metric tons of steelmaking coal a year. The terminal was closed March 11 because of strong winds.

"An early and incomplete assessment suggests that it will take three to six weeks for both berths to return to full operation," Buckley said in the e-mailed statement. The storm damaged walkways, cabling and platforms, she said.

The alliance, known as BMA, is a joint venture between BHP and Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp. QRNational is a unit of QR Ltd., Australia's largest coal transporter and owned by the state government. Force majeure is a contractual clause that allows companies to miss deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control.

BMA owns and operates seven mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin. The alliance is monitoring conditions at the port and its coal mines in Queensland are gradually restarting after the bad weather, Buckley said.

Dalrymple Bay has resumed loading ships after the cyclone, spokesman Andrew Garratt said by telephone today.


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