(Montel) Australia’s largest rail freight operator – Aurizon – has suspended operations on a key rail route in coal-rich Central Queensland due to a derailment, sources close to the situation said on Thursday.
He noted there was an estimated return to service of 18:00 [Queensland time] on Friday.
A spokesperson for Aurizon was not immediately available for comment.
But the incident was reported by local media, which said deliveries to the 85m tonnes/year Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal had been impacted, citing Aurizon sources.
The trader said he was unsure if all operations along the Goonyella system had been suspended, “but I expect a day delay at most.”
Nevertheless, this latest rail disruption comes at a time of already high prices for the world’s second-largest exporter of thermal coal.
The country’s benchmark Newcastle coal index was assessed last at USD 131.48/t, only marginally below Monday’s multi-year high of USD 131.86/t, thereby offering support to the wider global coal market.
The affected route mainly carries coking coal volumes, but thermal coal shipments from the 13m tonnes/year Blair Athol mine are also railed along the line, according to sources close to the situation.
Aurizon last week suspended operations on the Blackwater rail route, which also serves Queensland's coal export hubs, following a collision.
But a spokesman for the operator told Montel on Monday the system had re-opened to rail traffic.
The 2,670km Central Queensland coal network – which comprises six rail corridors, including Goonyella and Blackwater – links the state’s coal mines with export terminals at Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point and the Port of Gladstone.