UPDATE 3-Tally of Australia's coal loss from summer floods gets worse

Fri Apr 1, 2011 1:02pm GMT

* Australia floods seen causing deeper losses in Queensland coal output

* New estimates of losses by Resources Council exceed earlier gov't tallies

* Coking coal worst hit (Recasts, adds details, quotes)

By James Regan

SYDNEY, April 1 (Reuters) - Australia's Queensland state lost up to 30 million tonnes of coal production when monsoonal rains and a cyclone battered the eastern seaboard between November and February, exacting a higher economic toll on one of the most resilient economies than first estimated, government and private figures show.

Coal is Australia's top export earner and the drop, equivalent to 15 percent of annual output, threatens to curb economic growth and exacerbate a worldwide shortfall of coal as miners struggle to restart flooded out mines.

"The economic costs of the January floods and Cyclone Yasi are unprecedented for a natural disaster and we'll inevitably see growth take a hit in the early part of this year, Australia's treasurer, Wayne Swan said in a speech

The Treasury department, in an economic paper, said it expects the loss to production to be between 20 million and 30 million tonnes, based on information provided by the private sector.

A loss of 30 million tonnes would be double the Treasury's internal estimate of 15 million tonnes lost in the March quarter, which is now likely to be revised to show the flooding dealt the nation a more severe economic blow than first assumed.   Continued...

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