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China, Australia ports clogged as coal, ore demand soars

Staff Writer |
More than 300 large dry cargo ships are having to wait outside Chinese and Australian ports in a maritime traffic jam that spotlights bottlenecks in China's huge and global commodity supply chain as demand peaks this winter.

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With some vessels waiting to load coal and iron ore outside Australian ports for over a month, key charter rates have jumped to their highest in more than three years.

Placed end-to-end, the total delayed fleet would stretch more than 40 miles, enough to span the English Channel from Dover to Calais and back.

As well as choking supplies to the world's second-biggest economy, the clog is costing extra in a shipping sector operating on tight margins, just as it recovers from its worst downturn in more than three decades.

Charterers of capesize ships - the largest bulk dry cargo carriers - face paying an extra $1 million per vessel, assuming a 45-day wait, according to fixture data on the Reuters Eikon terminal.

"There are some ports in east Australia that have 80 vessels anchored, which translate into 20-25 days of delay and congestion," said Ziad Nakhleh, managing director of Greek ship owner Teo Shipping.

Shippers and brokers said the delays were typical, especially during the peak demand winter season, as bad weather including fog and strong winds in China and infrastructure issues in Australia exacerbate increased demand for vessels to satisfy China's soaring minerals appetite.


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