Tropical Cyclone Debbie, a Category 4 monster packing sustained winds of 175km/h, is now located less than 30km from the Central Queensland coast.
It’s expected to make landfall early this afternoon local time, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) latest update.
This is the latest forecast track map offered by the BOM.
Not only does that put Debbie in the path of hundreds of thousands of Queensland residents, but also key mining infrastructure, be it ports, railways or mines.
Particularly for the coal industry. This chart supplied Macquarie Research underlines that point:
It’s basically a direct hit.
At present, Debbie is expected to cross just the south of Abbott Point, a key coal loading terminal. While it may be spared a direct hit, other areas further south will, on present forecasts, not only suffer the worst of the cyclonic winds, but also the heaviest rainfall as the clockwise-moving system pick up moisture over the ocean, flinging it over the coast.
“Widespread daily rainfall totals of 150 to 250 mm, with isolated event totals over 500 mm, are also likely to lead to major river flooding over a broad area this week,” says the BOM.
And that has the potential to create severe disruptions on mining sector activity, both in terms of output and supply networks, says Macquarie.
“Given that Abbot Point appears to be at risk of a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Debbie, there is an elevated risk of damage to the port, although the impact of subsequent rainfall as the cyclone moves inline is likely to have a greater impact on coal volumes if the port survives unscathed,” it says.
“As Abbot Point is primarily a thermal coal port, we see limited impact on global coal prices unless rainfall severely impacts mine production in the Bowen Basin.”
Given that Debbie is expected to hit just to the north of major facilitates in the Bowen Basin, that last point is an obvious risk.
“If we see material impacts to mine production in the northern Bowen Basin then we would expect to see near-term strength in spot coking coal prices,” Macquarie says.