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Cyclone Kirrily Disrupts Queensland Coal Exports: Ports Brace for Landfall

A brewing tropical cyclone dubbed “Kirrily” is threatening to disrupt Australia’s vital coal exports from Queensland, prompting proactive measures from rail operators and port authorities.

Cyclone on Track for Landfall:

  • The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts Kirrily to reach Category 2 strength and make landfall near Townsville around January 25th, bringing heavy rain, strong winds, and rough seas.

Rail Operations Halted in Preparation:

  • Aurizon, a key coal rail operator, is taking precautions, winding down coal train services in the Dalrymple Bay corridor since January 23rd.
  • Train sets on the Goonyella line are being stowed away, with services expected to resume only on January 26th afternoon.

Impact on Major Coal Shippers:

  • The disruption could affect major coal miners like Anglo American, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, Bowen Coking Coal, and Peabody Energy, who use Hay Point port for exports.

Coal Terminals Prepare for Weather Impact:

  • Abbot Point Coal Terminal and Hay Point Coal Terminal shut down shipping on January 23rd as a precaution and plan to reopen on January 26th.
  • North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation, the port authority, assures well-rehearsed emergency plans are in place.

Harbour Masters Order Ship Evacuation:

  • Maritime Safety Queensland, the state’s ports safety agency, has instructed ships waiting off Hay Point and Abbot Point to move to safer waters.

Potential Export Loss Estimated:

  • A week-long rail disruption on the Goonyella line could hold up around 2 million tonnes of coal exports, according to estimates.

Overall, Cyclone Kirrily poses a significant threat to Queensland’s coal exports, forcing temporary shutdowns and impacting major coal producers. While authorities are prepared, the extent of disruption remains uncertain, depending on the cyclone’s final path and intensity.