Key Australian coal rail line to Newcastle fully reopens following floods

Hunter Valley. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto | Flickr.)

Australian Rail Track Corp (ARTC) said on Friday it has fully reopened the Hunter Valley coal rail line to Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal export port, after flood waters receded in New South Wales.

The line was shut for nearly a week amid the worst rainfall in more than 50 years, and partly reopened on Wednesday. The disruption drove coal prices to more than two-year highs above $100 a tonne.

“As part of the full return to service, coal services that were running in a limited capacity have returned to standard operations and passenger trains have resumed operations on the network,” ARTC, operator of the Hunter Valley Network, said in a statement.

A section of the network between Narrabri North and Moree remains closed due to continued flooding, ARTC said.

The Hunter Valley rail network serves mines run by BHP Group , Glencore Plc, New Hope Corp, Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal Australia, among others.

Yancoal on Thursday said it had resumed operations at two of its mines in the Hunter Valley after the heavy rains and flooding disrupted activities earlier in the week. Output was unaffected at its other operations.

Glencore reduced output at some sites as a safety precaution, while Whitehaven cut its production target for this year partly due to the weather-related disruption this week.

The Port of Newcastle, which last year shipped 158 million tonnes of coal mostly used in power stations in Asia, slowed ship movements earlier in the week, but operations continued throughout the stormy conditions.

(By Sonali Paul; Editing by Chris Reese and Jane Wardell)


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