PORT Waratah Coal Services loaded 105.9 million tonnes of coal during 2020, a decline of 4.2 per cent on its 2019 output, the company said in a statement.
GIVEN the impact of COVID-19, PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said the output was "a strong one . . . in a challenging year".
PWCS operates the coal loader at Carrington, and the older of the two shiploaders on Kooragang Island.
The third loader is owned by another coal industry consortium, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group or NCIG, which does not provide its statistics to the media or the public in the way that PWCS does.
Its tonnages are available, however, through Australian Bureau of Statistics and other government publications, but the time to process these usually means they emerge well after PWCS publishes its summaries.
Mr du Plooy said 90 per cent of shipments through PWCS were bound for Asian nations, led by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Thailand.
"China's consumption has fluctuated over the years and this year was a destination for 9 per cent of coal exports through PWCS, while exports to India, Malaysia and Thailand grew compared to previous years," Mr du Plooy said.
As we reported on December 28, ABS filings show NCIG lifted its imports by 3.7 million tonnes to the end of October to 45.9 million tonnes.
This means that if its full year figures maintain this trend, NCIG will have shipped more this year than in 2019: its increase will come close to cancelling the fall in exports through PWCS, meaning the Port of Newcastle's overall coal shipments for 2020 will have been very close to the 2019 figures, before coronavirus began to wrack the global economy and demand for the electricity and steel created with coal exported from Newcastle.
Mr du Plooy said PWCS was "proud of the adaptability and capacity to accept change demonstrated by our team".
"Our challenge as we move into 2021 is to remain vigilant, the COVID-19 controls we have in place are now business as usual and sustainable," Mr du Plooy said.
A breakdown of the PWCS throughput shows the 105.9 million tonnes was carried on 1192 vessels (compared with 110.5 million tonnes on 1226 ships in 2019).
The average size of the shipment was 88,852 tonnes, compared with 90,204 in 2019.
Changes to shipping rules since the Pasha Bulker grounding in 2007 mean that ships in the coal queue now sit over the horizon - and out of sight - east of Newcastle, or in an area near New Guinea.
The PWCS December bulletin said the average vessel queue was 17 in December, with the annual average being 10 days, up from 7 days in 2019.
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