Mining resumes in flood-hit Australia

FLOODWATERS have eased in Australia’s major coal mining region, allowing some mines to resume production, although most remain idle as floods force towns to be evacuated.

Queensland is the world’s biggest exporter of coal used in steel making, but floodwaters have brought production and shipments overseas to a virtual standstill, pushing world coal prices higher.

Queensland Resource Council said it would take until next week to determine when exports would return to normal.

“This is a three part drama: first mining production has to resume, then transport and then ports,” said a council spokesman.

Australia accounts for more than half of global coking coal exports, which are especially important for Asian countries such as China.

Wesfarmers said it was resuming output at its Curragh mine, but that the act of God would continue to dampen exports and that it would take until early February to return to normal production.

Spot coking coal prices have risen around 10 per cent in a month and look set to move sharply higher as Australian customers look for new supplies to cover lost output.