The big wet turned scores of open pit coal mines in northern and central Queensland into virtual ?dams? and disrupted other extractive industry operations, supply firms and rail and truck freight businesses. In southeast Queensland, some quarries were also affected.
Industry experts and government officials have estimated that it could be at least three months before minerals and aggregates can be processed and transported. Many major Queensland mining and extractive industry operations have since December been operating under the principle of force majeure, which enables them to miss contracted deliveries to clients due to conditions beyond their control.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh declared that up to 75 per cent of Queensland?s mines had halted production because of the floods. With Australia accounting for more than half of global coking coal exports – vital to steelmakers in China and other parts of Asia – there is likely to be a major rise in global steel prices (and therefore on the cost of wearparts for equipment). Kobe Steel, the world?s largest coal importer, has already indicated it will order supplies from North America and Africa.
Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser confirmed in January that the floods had impacted on 40 mines which were being individually case managed. In December, the Queensland Department of Environmental and Resource Management issued 11 Transitional Environment Programmes to coal mines to allow them to safely discharge water.
The Queensland Government has announced flood assistance programmes for primary producers and small businesses in flood-affected Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the State. Primary producers and small businesses in 22 LGAs and four partial LGAs are eligible to receive grants of up to $25,000 for clean up and flood recovery. Concessional loans of up to $250,000 have been extended to small businesses and primary producers in five additional LGAs. To learn more about these relief programmes, contact Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA), tel 1800 623 946 or visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au
In addition to mopping up their Queensland operations, large extractive industry businesses like BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Rio Tinto, Macarthur Coal, Anglo American, Thiess and Boral have donated over $10,000 each to the relief effort. To make an individual or business donation, visit the Premier?s Disaster Relief Appeal website: www.qld.gov.au/floods
Sources: ABC News, SBS News, News Ltd, Queensland Government, Australian Mining, Creamer Media?s Mining Weekly