SYDNEY (Reuters) - Global miner Glencore on Wednesday declared force majeure on coal shipments from the cyclone-hit Bowen Basin in Australia, after the storm damaged railway lines, disrupting delivery to ports.
Glencore runs five coal mines in the region and it is the fifth miner to declare force majeure - a clause typically invoked after natural disasters - leaving rivals in the United States to cash in on a surge in prices as Chinese steelmakers scramble for supplies.
A critical mountain pass on the railway connecting the world’s single biggest source of coking coal to ports has been hit by landslides and buckled tracks after Cyclone Debbie pounded the northeast state of Queensland, crippling efforts to get exports of coal flowing again.
“Glencore has declared force majeure on its Queensland coal shipments impacted by flood damage to the State’s coal rail network,” the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
The line’s operator, Aurizon Holdings, said it would take around five weeks to repair the worst-hit parts of the network and alternative routes were being considered.
Though with floodwaters from the deluge still travelling through river systems along many parts of the network, analysts are anticipating further delays and disruption to supply.
BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest shipper of coking coal, declared force majeure earlier in the day.
Queensland accounts for more than 50 percent of global seaborne coking coal supplies, with prices rising on fears that stockpiles held by steelmakers will start to run down.
Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Evans