By Jo Clarke
February 12, 2024 - Australian rail firm Aurizon has cut its coal volume guidance for the 2023-24 fiscal year to 30 June, as the end of mining at Wilkie Creek and wider coal mine production problems offset output increases at Olive Downs and New Acland.
Aurizon had targeted to increase coal haulage by 10pc in 2023-24 from the 185mn t it hauled in 2022-23 but revised that to 5pc year-on-year growth when it announced its half-year results on 12 February. This implies a target of 194mn t for 2023-24. It hauled 94mn t during July-December, leaving it a target of 100mn t for January-June.
Wet weather in Queensland in late December, through January and into February has disrupted some operations in the wider coal industry. But it has been less disruptive to Aurizon's coal operations than previous Queensland wet seasons, the firm's managing director Andrew Hardy said. The firm hauled 94.5mn t of coal during January-June 2023 when flooding cut access to some mines.
Aurizon's August guidance of 10pc growth in haulage was based partly on a contract to deliver coal from the 2.4mn t/yr New Wilkie mine near Dalby, Queensland but mining has stopped after the operator entered administration](https://direct.argusmedia.com/newsandanalysis/article/2524314). Aurizon is still talking with the receivers and some cargoes are being loaded from stocks but full contract volumes are unlikely to be met.
Haulage increased by 70pc during July-December compared with a year earlier on the West Morton line, as New Hope increased production at its New Acland mine. It was also up for New South Wales (NSW), Moura and Blackwater lines because of drier conditions than a year earlier. This was offset by 16pc and 6pc lower haulage on the Newlands and Goonyella lines respectively.
Newlands runs south from Abbot Point port to North Goonyella, servicing Glencore's 2.5mn t/yr Collinsville thermal coal mine and a handful of mines owned by Australian mining firm QCoal. Goonyella runs west from the adjacent ports of Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal terminal to join with Newlands at North Goonyella, servicing more than 20 mines in the Bowen basin.
Aurizon started hauling coal for the 4.5mn t/yr Olive Downs metallurgical coal mine in January, which will travel on the Goonyella line.
Aurizon is operating at around 82pc utilisation rates, up from 78pc during the Covid-19 pandemic and is aiming to return to 90pc. But it is facing competition from BMA rail in Queensland and Magnetic Rail in NSW, as well as Pacific National in both states.