Coal price fall won?t affect region

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

ANY fall in the price of coal would not hurt the performance of our region, according to local leaders.

Despite predictions of an 18 per cent fall in coal prices released yesterday, the future of the Gladstone region will not be adversely affected.

Banana Shire mayor Glenn Churchill said he would look into the predictions, released in a report from Access Economics, but felt any reduction in price would signify a levelling off of the price, not a dramatic fall.

'It needs to be known that coal has been at a ridiculously high price, so I think this will be more of a levelling off to show that it's economically sustainable,' Cr Churchill said.

The Banana Shire is one of the state's most concentrated areas of coal mining, and includes the Surat Basin. Cr Churchill described the announcement as 'healthy', stating that any fall in price would help stabilise the market.

'Hopefully it will also send a message to the governments that they need to work with the companies behind these (coal) projects to put infrastructure in place for the future as well,' he said.

Gladstone mayor and Central Queensland Ports Authority chair Peter Corones agreed with his counterpart, stating that any plans for the future growth of Gladstone's port were based on long-term plans.

'We look at the long term, not short term, so I don't believe any drop would adversely affect the plans we have for the port,' Cr Corones said.

Cr Corones added that the ma- jority of expansions planned for the Gladstone port were already committed to.

'I would like to see it as more of a settling down period, rather than any major drop,' Cr Corones said.

'You'll always get your ups and downs, but we're focused on the long-term vision.'

Access Economics, one of Australia's leading economic forecasters, yesterday released a report predicting a number of Australia's commodities would suffer a fall in price over coming years.

Of particular note to Gladstone was the prediction that coking coal prices would fall 18.6 per cent and steaming coal would drop 17.9 per cent.

The predictions come just three weeks after the state government announced expansion plans for the Gladstone port which would make it the largest coal exporting facility in the world.

Yesterday Gladstone Economic and Industry Development Board (GEIDB) chief executive Ken King said a drop of that magnitude would not adversely hurt the region.



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