Logistics, Ports & Terminals, Mining and Heavy Industries

BMA Rail stifles Aurizon coal growth

Coal wagons Aurizon. Photo: Aurizon

Aurizon says increased coal movements by competitor BMA Rail contributed to a 0.2% slide in its coal volumes in the March quarter.

BMA Rail, a division of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), began using its own trains to haul coal in 2014.

The 50/50 BHP Mitsubishi joint venture operates seven mines in the Bowen Basin, as well as an export terminal at Hay Point.

Increased activity by BMA hauling its own coal has contributed to a 4.7% year-to-date decline in Aurizon’s coal haulage in Queensland, the Brisbane-based operator’s home state.

Aurizon hauled 120.8 million tonnes in the first three quarters of the 2015/16 financial year, down nearly 6 million tonnes from the 126.7 million tonnes.

Good weather countered the decline slightly in the March quarter, with a year-on-year decline of just 2.6% to 38.8 million tonnes in the quarter.

There’s no doubt the increased competition from BMA Rail is eating into Aurizon’s volumes, however.

“March quarter 2016 volumes were in line with the pcp at 38.8mt (-0.1mt) with more favourable weather in the current quarter offsetting the weaker volumes in the Goonyella corridor due to increased railings by BMA Rail and the impact from the closure of the Gregory Southmine in the Blackwater corridor,” Aurizon said last week.

Aurizon noted another of its customers, Peabody Energy Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-April, but said none of coal miner’s Australian entities were listed in the filings.

“Aurizon continues to haul for Peabody Energy Australia with mine and rail operations continuing as usual,” the company said.

Full-year coal guidance was maintained at 204-209 million tonnes, down slightly from the 211 million tonnes it hauled in 2014/15.

Elsewhere, Aurizon reported a 3% decline in its iron ore volumes in the March quarter, to 6.0 million tonnes.

It also reported a 1% drop in freight volumes (to 9.3 million tonnes) and a 1% drop in intermodal containers (to 88,600 TEUs) in the quarter.

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