Coal exports at a record high 

THE supposed downturn in the mining industry has failed to slow coal movements out of Newcastle, with a new monthly tonnage record set in July.

Port Waratah Coal Services broke its own volume record after just over six months, pushing 10.3 million tonnes through its two Newcastle terminals last month.

The previous record - 10.2 million tonnes of coal through the port - was set in December.

The 83 ships loaded at the Kooragang Island terminal was also a monthly record for Port Waratah.

Combined, its two terminals loaded 114 ships in July.

Port Waratah Coal Services chief executive Hennie du Plooy said the result was pleasing as the Hunter's coal industry went through "significant adjustment".

"To have been able to meet the demands of our customers to this extent at a time when coal prices remain at challenging levels is a great result," Mr du Plooy said. "I want to recognise all Port Waratah employees who contributed to this result, as well as the service providers on whom we rely."

While the monthly result is strong, it may not symbolise a turnaround in the region's fortunes.

The Newcastle Herald reported last month that exports were expected to spike in July.

The Herald has also reported that Port Waratah may shift less coal overall this year than in 2012, with Mr du Plooy saying he was "concerned there is some risk of a downside in the second half of the year".

Port Waratah Coal Services had "demobilised" its planned T4 project to add another loader to the Port of Newcastle.

A $300 million expansion of the Kooragang terminal is due for completion later this year.

The Australian dollar's sinking value against the US dollar is also of concern for exporters, theoretically reducing their returns from trades in the American currency.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said coal remained the state's most valuable export commodity.

"The export record is a timely reminder of the importance of coal to our state's export performance and another reason why the Hunter is Australia's most important mining region," Mr Galilee said.

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