The floods that have ravaged Australia could reduce that country’s coal exports by 15 million metric tons in the first quarter, or 20%, according to a report released by the Australian government.
Since late December, monsoon rains have caused the worst flooding Down Under in more than a century. The deluge has struck the northeastern part of the island nation the hardest, in the state of Queensland. More than 20 have died. Total damages from the flood have been estimated at as much as $20 billion.
Queensland’s mining districts, especially a region called Bowen Basin, account for more than half of the coal mined in Australia, which is itself the world’s biggest exporter of the fossil fuel. Most of the companies operating mines in Bowen Basin, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Anglo-American and Peabody Energy, were compelled to declare force majeure, a legal clause in a supply contract that says a company can’t be held responsible — or pay penalties — on late shipments to customers because of problems caused by events outside its control.