Mackay coal terminal has record breaking 2013

COAL prices might be on the floor, but the world's largest coal port in Central Queensland is going gang-busters, with the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal south of Mackay reporting a record breaking 2013.

Miners in the Bowen Basin have been pushing to dig up and dispatch more coal from each mine, a campaign known in the industry as "sweating the assets".

Although low prices for energy and steel-making coal are still biting, companies are keen to export as much coal as possible because whether they move one tonne or 10 million, their take-or-pay contracts mean they pay the same.

Dalrymple Bay moved more than 65 million tonnes from January to December, eclipsing the 63 million mark for the first time since mid 2010. DBCT exports coal on behalf of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Vale, Anglo American and Isaac Plains.

Together, these companies own 18 mines in Central Queensland. Despite smashing its export ceiling, DBCT is prepared for more - it is built to handle 85 million tonnes of coal a year, or 20 million beyond the 2013 rate.

The Hay Point terminal next door reported its highest figures since it hit the 36.3 million mark at the end of the 2009-10 financial year. In the 2013 calendar year, HPCT pumped out 38.3 million tonnes.

To the north, the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen processed 21 million tonnes of coal, railed in from its Bowen Basin suppliers, up 4 million tonnes more than in the 2012-13 financial year.

Both Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay terminals are part of the Port of Hay Point and with Abbot Point are overseen by the state-owned North Queensland Bulk Ports.