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Thursday, 07 May 09
RICHARDS BAY COAL SHIPMENTS FALL MOST IN 9 MONTHS - BLOOMBERG


RICHARDS BAY Coal Terminal Ltd., Africa’s largest coal-export facility, said shipments fell 24 percent last month, the biggest drop in nine months.

Shipments fell to 4.55 million metric tons in April from 5.97 million tons in the same month a year earlier, the terminal said in an e-mailed response to questions today. That’s the biggest drop since July last year, when they declined 26 percent. Stockpiles at the terminal climbed to 4.19 million tons, the highest since March 2007.

“It’s the market, its terrible,” Xavier Prevost, a coal analyst in South Africa, said in an interview from his mobile phone today. “With the prices most of the producers are not keen on actually exporting or selling too much coal.”

Prices of coal shipped from the terminal fell 44 percent Over the last year and traded at an average of $58.50 a ton in the week ended May 1, according to Petersfield, England-based McCloskey Group.

The terminal in north eastern South Africa is owned by South Africa’s largest coal exporters, including Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Xstrata Plc. It is the biggest source of coal for European power plants.

Sixty-eight ships were loaded during the month and 572 trains arrived at the facility, RBCT said. It received 5.27 million tons of the fuel by rail.

Falling Shipments

At its current shipment rate Richards Bay will export 56.77 million tons of coal this year compared with a capacity of 76 million tons, expanding to 91 million tons by July. When that expansion is complete Richards Bay will be the world’s single biggest coal export facility.

Richards Bay’s shipments this year are likely to be below those last year, Prevost said, adding that he doesn’t expect substantial improvement in demand in 2009. The terminal shipped 61.79 million tons in 2008 compared with 66.16 million tons the year earlier. Exports were reduced by derailments and increased competition for supplies from power utility Eskom Holdings Ltd.

Terry Howarth, the chief executive officer of the terminal, wasn’t immediately available when his office was called.

Transnet Ltd., which operates South Africa’s railways, will close one of two lines to the terminal from May 4-13 for Xavier maintenance.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=ahn8lGylbYKg&refer=africa 



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