Australian coal exports from Gladstone surge in May


Shipments of coal from Australia’s Port of Gladstone surged in May with its three major export destinations India, Japan and China seeing strong growth in volumes, data from the Gladstone Ports Corporation showed.

A total of 6.35 million mt of coal was shipped from Gladstone during the month, which was up 4% year on year from 6.14 million mt, and 39% higher than the 4.56 million mt export in April.

It was the largest monthly volume since December 2016, the data showed.

Gladstone coal exports to India were potentially at an all-time high, being the most sent in a month since at least July 2013 with a volume of 1.95 million mt. The May Indian shipment was up 56% from 1.25 million mt a year earlier and 90% higher than April’s 1.03 million mt, it said.

While exports to Japan were down 10% year on year at 2.18 million mt, they were up 27% from the 1.72 million mt shipped in April and the largest monthly total since December, the GPC figures showed. Volumes to China were also the strongest since December at 1.15 million mt, having risen 56% year on year from 738,000 mt and 342% from 261,000 mt in April.

Prior to May, total exports this year from Gladstone have not breached the 5 million mt mark. There have been rail issues throughout the year. The Blackwater rail line, which connects mines in the region to Gladstone, faced problems due to storms and excessive heat earlier in the year.

The port — which typically sees a breakdown of around 70% metallurgical coal and 30% thermal coal — exports via the RG Tanna terminal, which GPC says has a current throughput capacity in excess of 60 million mt/year, and from the 8 million mt/year Wiggins Island terminal.

For January-May, Gladstone has shipped 25.46 million mt, which translates to an annualized rate of 61.54 million mt. Last year, the port exported 68.29 million mt. Despite the strong volumes to the three major export destinations in May, they are all tracking lower than last year. For the first five months of the year, exports to India were at a rate of 15.56 million mt/year versus a total of 16.03 million mt last year, with Japan at 20.67 million mt against 21.50 million mt and China at just 8.16 million mt compared with 12.96 million mt, the data and calculations from S&P Global Platts showed.

Meanwhile, exports to South Korea and Taiwan slumped in May. South Korea was shipped around 375,000 mt during the month, which was down 66% from 1.11 million mt a year earlier and 57% less than the 879,000 mt in April, the data showed.

Volumes to Taiwan stood at about 151,000 mt, down 4% year on year from 158,000 mt and 13% from 174,000 mt in April.

Source: Platts

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