With one of Queensland’s largest coal export terminals ceasing exports and the largest in the state at just 60 per cent capacity the country is facing major economic impacts.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has already warned tough choices will have to be considered if her government is to maintain its aim to return the nation’s budget to surplus.
The flood crisis in Queensland has ripped nearly two million tonnes of coal a week out of global supply after 40 mines in the state have been affected, with several saying they can’t meet their contracts, AAP reported. In the case of countless major names in mining, the legal clause of force majeure has been evoked, with the inability to supply coal out of companies’ hands.
With Australia accounting for the bulk of the world’s coal supply, and Queensland a major cog in the country’s coal producing machine, there are fears that prolonged flooding could lead to crisis in Asia.
The Blackwater coal rail system is inundated, cutting off the major supply line to the Port of Gladstone in central Queensland, the 4th largest coal export terminal in the world.
The Dalrymple Bay coal terminal, Queensland’s largest, is running at between 60 and 70 per cent capacity – and the number of trains and ships transporting coal is significantly down, with more cuts forecast.
It’s not only the disrupted export of coal which has caused commodity price concerns – disruption of the state’s huge wheat and sugar industries have some worrying about a food crisis in 2011.
Insurance claims soar
Meanwhile, flooding has already generated insurance claims totalling about $150 million, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says.
The general insurance industry has already received about 4300 claims from Queenslanders who have been impacted by the flooding, it says.
But the ICA says these are only preliminary estimates and don’t include the cost of repairs to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, hospitals and schools.
It is also telling people not to worry if insurance documents have been lost or damaged in the floods.
Insurance companies keep records electronically and only require the policy holder’s name and address to locate a policy.
People making claims are also encouraged to contact their insurers before authorising repairs.
They can still throw out carpets and other soft furnishings that have been damaged by water and mud but should keep photos or an inventory of these possessions, the ICA says.
Insurance assessors are on the ground in some affected areas and are undertaking claims assessments for property and motor vehicles that have been inundated by the floodwaters.