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Aurizon says China ban may have shifted coal permanently


China’s ban on Australian coal has combined with the pandemic to cut into Aurizon’s first-half profit, which slid 22 per cent to $267 million as the company also predicted the diversion of the commodity to other countries may become permanent.

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Aurizon also lowered its guidance for coal haulage based on the “challenging China trade environment”.

Its interim dividend was up 5 per cent to 14.4 cents a share.

Managing director Andrew Harding said Australian coal producers were rapidly overcoming China’s trade bans after being slashed by 79 per cent in the December quarter. About 10 million tonnes of the 18 million tonnes affected had so far found a home in other ports.

“I think and my strong suspicion is that the situation will stay for the long term and companies are in the process of adapting,” Harding said.

“They will do it extremely well. In the next six to 12 months it will be a much less significant issue than it was six months ago.”

Despite the China impacts he said coal demand was strong and the seaborne trade would grow by 10 per cent over the next decade, supported by steel-intensive growth in India and prolonged coal-fired generation driven by a relatively young coal generation fleet in Asia.

Aurizon’s earnings before interest and tax were flat at $454 million. Its network coal volume was down 11 per cent to 103.7 million tonnes.

Aurizon’s share price jumped 3 per cent to $3.97 in opening trade this morning and analysts have said it was a solid result which should lift its share price.

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