Coast bears brunt of Oswald as Queensland takes stock
MINES and farms close to the Queensland coast were hardest hit by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, with cattle and cane growers south of Mackay still assessing stock losses and damage to crops.
Rabobank's Rockhampton-based state manager, Brad James, said while Oswald had brought more rainfall in certain areas than cyclone Yasi two years ago, the impact was mainly confined to coastal regions this time and rainfall inland was beneficial.
Mr James said there would be stock losses and damage to infrastructure, particularly fencing, on beef properties from Mackay to Rockhampton but it was too early to quantify the damage.
"Cattle can go missing in floods but turn up later - they float downstream - and it's often inaccurate to give an early estimate," he said.
For cultivators, moving south to Bundaberg, Mr James said the storm had been "quite destructive" with early reports of significant losses for citrus orchards and tree crops on the Burnett River floodplain.
Cotton growers inland were thankfully spared this year after incurring significant damage in 2011, Mr James said.
Canegrowers chief executive Steve Greenwood said flooding rains had ravaged pockets of land, and major damage would be sustained by some growers, particularly in the Bundaberg, Maryborough and Childers areas.
Mr Greenwood said the crops in those areas would have been about 2.5 million tonnes and was reasonably well established after the November harvest. But with rivers still rising it was too early to determine the full extent of the damage.
Damage in the 18 sugarcane areas across Queensland and New South Wales would be assessed over the next week, but Canegrowers said Australia's production overall was not expected to be significantly downgraded.
The Queensland Resources Council said the export coal industry could take several weeks to resume full production, but despite the heavy rainfall mines were by and large resuming normal operations.
There were reports of significant damage to the Blackwater and Moura rail systems that carry coal from the southern and central Bowen Basin to the port of Gladstone, where operations have also been hampered by about 800 millimetres of rain.
China-backed Yancoal closed two of its Queensland coalmines. Production at Middlemount open-cut mine was likely to be impacted for at least three weeks although its Yarrabee mine, closed at the weekend, would return to normal this week. Yancoal shares were unchanged.
A spokesperson for Gladstone Ports said shiploading had recommenced at RG Tanna Coal Terminal as was rail unloading. Barney Point Coal Terminal was set to resume unloading yesterday. All coal ports were open to shipping and coal seam gas-LNG operations reported only minor disruptions.