State's exports rally to $63b despite Debbie's wrath

A RECORD-breaking rally in the coal price has given Queensland's commodities a much-needed relief after damage of Cyclone Debbie.

Queensland's exports have reached a new 12-month high, surging 32.2% to $63.4 billion in the year to May 2017.

This was despite many ports up the Queensland coast closing its facilities after Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie ravished regions.

Exporting performance out of Gladstone Ports Corporation's facilities dropped in the year to May by 3.22 million tonnes compared to 2015-16.

Coal exports dropped from 72.12 million tonnes between 2015 - 16 to 62.68 million tonnes this year.

The billion-dollar increase for exports this year was revealed by the Queensland Government yesterday.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt said a significant rise in the value of coal exports was the primary driver behind Queensland setting another record export total.

Gladstone Ports Corporation's facilities were closed on March 30 as the region faced the wrath of the Cyclone Debbie's 80km per hour winds and heavy rainfall.

"GPC ceased all ship loading operations and closed access to its stockpiles at RG Tanna Coal Terminal in the early hours of the morning (on March 30) and provided regular updates to its coal customers throughout the day," chief executive Peter O'Sullivan said.

"As weather conditions eased in the afternoon, the terminal recommended ship loading with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) allowing coal vessels to depart later that same evening."

North Queensland port precinct, Port Alma Shipping Terminal was closed from April 3 - 23 due to flooding and debris in the Fitzroy River system.

While the wrath of Debbie left ports closed and little options for coal and other commodities, the Queensland Government is now celebrating the record-breaking year.

Mr Pitt said it was the increase in the price of coal, in particular hard-coking coal, that brought the relief.

In April world coking coal prices rose to US $314/t.

"While the volume of coal exports was down by an estimated 13.4 million tonnes compared to a year earlier, the nominal values were supported by a surge in coal prices," Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt said there was also a $172 million increase in the value of aluminium exports, particularly alumina.

The impact of the $172 million boost to aluminium value for Gladstone should be known next week when Rio Tinto releases its latest production report.

Other star performers were in the form of crop exports, which increased $180 million over the year to May quarter this year to $474 million, driven largely by an increase in chickpea exports.

Mr Pitt said the export industry supports about one in five jobs in Queensland.



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