Following the devastating floods and cyclones that hit Queensland, the coal industry has managed to bounce back to two thirds of its capacity.
The latest coal export data shows that compared to 12 months ago, the QLD industry is operating at only two thirds of its potential.
According to Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief Michael Roche, in February 2011, the State exported eight million tonnes of coal compared to 12 million tonnes in February 2010.
“This is only one month’s worth of exports, but the numbers are consistent with company reports and the QRC’s own estimates of a 30 million down turn in coal production,” Roche said.
This was a direct result of the wet season and floods that inundated Queensland, and saw Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata close their coal mines.
The predicted loss of revenue has previously been put at around $5 billion for this financial year.
According to Roche, three out of four coal mines are still working to remove water from the properties under the special temporary environmental concessions from the State Government.
He went on to say that there is a growing concern over the outlook for continuing rain in the coal regions and the possible formation of another tropical cyclone.
“What can be pumped off a site can be replaced just as quickly by such rainfall, and your flooded coal pit is then right back to square one of the business recovery phase,” Roche said.
The speed with which an open pit can flood was demonstrated in the footage of Cockatoo Coal’s Baralaba mine filling rapidly with water.
However, Roche noted that it was pleasing to see Queensland’s new minister for employment, skills and mining, Stirling Hinchliffe, personally inspecting some of the Bowen Basin’s flood affected mines.