First Australian coking coal train reaches port, but full service slow to come

|By:, SA News Editor

The first coal train from an Australian mining area devastated by the recent cyclone reached port in Queensland today, sparking a race by major miners including BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) to secure spare capacity on the only operating line.

But most of the coal in the region travels on Aurizon's Goonyella line further north, which was cut by large landslides; Aurizon expects the line to be closed until May, leaving miners on that line chasing capacity on the Blackwater line.

BHP has interests in 11 coal mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin, with most located on the Goonyella line, and it is scrambling to transport coal from its mines while railroad lines are repaired.

Coking coal prices spiked last week due to the disruptions but have since eased.

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