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IT will likely take until the final three months of this year for Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) to repair the shiploader that was badly damaged during a wild storm in November, leaving the Kooragang Island operation with just one shiploader.
NCIG confirmed the repair schedule on Thursday after the impact of its reduced capacity was mentioned when rail company Aurizon announced its half-yearly results on Tuesday.
NCIG chief executive Aaron Johansen said the broken shiploader had been stabilised and would be repaired in a dedicated maintenance bay.
"We have a dedicated NCIG team, some whom were with us in the original construction of the shiploader, working to return the damaged shiploader to service," Mr Johansen said.
"We're confident the team will continue to optimise outcomes so that the shiploader is returned to service in the shortest time possible."
A "heavy lift" ship, Happy Rover, was at NCIG earlier this month, using its deck cranes to help support the stricken shiploader as it was moved.
Mr Johansen said the plan was to have the shiploader back in the fourth quarter of this year, which starts on October 1.
He said NCIG planned to operate at an annualised rate of 45 to 47 million tonnes a year during the repair period, compared with the 53.4 million tonnes the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows NCIG shipped last year.
Hennie du Plooy, head of Port Waratah Coal Services, confirmed that coal was being rerouted from NCIG to PWCs under a "capacity transfer system".
The ABS has PWCS shipping 106 million tonnes last year (a monthly average of almost 8.9 million tonnes). Mr du Plooy said the extra coal saw PWCS ship 10.9 million tonnes in December and 10.4 million tonnes in January.
Aurizon and Gunnedah-based miner Whitehaven both reported downturns in volumes and earnings this week, with climate change and uncertainty over China cited by both as major factors.
Domestically, Energy Security Board chief Kerry Schott told a conference that cheap renewable power could force east coast coal-fired power stations to shut "four or five years" ahead of schedule.
She said this was "a challenge" if the grid lacked power storage capacity.
The ESB is investigating changes to electricity market rules.
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