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Port Waratah celebrates record year in 2021

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Port Waratah Coal Services registered a significant year-on-year increase in the amount of coal handled for export in 2021.

With 111.3 million tonnes loaded onto a record number of 1,279 vessels, the operator of the Kooragang and Carrington terminals in Newcastle achieved its second highest annual volume in history and the tenth consecutive year in which volumes exceeded 100 million tonnes.

CEO Hennie du Plooy expressed his satisfaction with the operational achievements, noting that the year was marked by momentous volatility and change.

“We recognise that Port Waratah’s unique role in the Hunter Valley coal chain requires us to perform consistently and reliably, in the interest of both producing and end-user customers,” he said.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, adverse weather conditions and significant market changes, our teams were able to deliver strong performance in the year.”

He further noted that the market changes during the year confirm that despite issues such as limited exports to China, the overall demand for Hunter Valley coal remains strong and that high demand can be reflected in price quickly, as demonstrated by the product price improvements in 2021.

“Our experience indicates demand for our region’s coal remains stable and aligned with the International Energy Agency’s predictions that global demand for coal will be stable through to 2024,” Mr du Plooy said.

“Fifty per cent of all coal handled by Port Waratah was destined for the Hunter Valley’s core market in Japan.

“Our records also indicate that exports increased into countries such as Taiwan, India and Thailand.

“Some of these changes presented challenges for our operations, such as a significant increase in the number of smaller-sized vessels we were required to load, highlighting the importance of the Carrington Terminal, for which we were able to secure lease extension during the year.”

Mr du Plooy highlighted the collaborative nature of the Hunter Valley coal chain and the contribution of all participants to the overall success of the Hunter Valley industry.

“The coal chain remains a complex beast, and we couldn’t do what we do without the collaboration of producers, rail haulage providers, the Port Authority of NSW, the Port of Newcastle and the large number of service providers that play a role in keeping the coal flowing,” he stated.

“All parties had to deal with significant uncertainty and the challenges presented once again by the pandemic.

“So, I want to thank and congratulate everyone on the achievement of again bringing high-quality Hunter Valley coal to the world reliably and consistently.”

Regarding the future, Mr du Plooy said Port Waratah’s focus remained on sustainably delivering the service its customers expected in a way that met community expectations.

“At Port Waratah, our aim in 2022 is to continue to drive improvement throughout our business,” he explained.

“Our top priorities are the ongoing safety of our employees and contractors, involvement and support of our community, excellence in environmental performance and delivering for our customers and the Hunter Valley coal industry.”

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