SHOOT: The amount of land underwater = Germany and France combined. That is an awful lot of productive land. In terms of coal, Queensland is the world's biggest exporter of coal for steelmaking. Now China will be turning its visage on other suppliers, putting overall pressure on coal stocks.
Meanwhile: Supply concerns sparked by the waterlogged crop in Australia had helped benchmark U.S. wheat futures to reach a 5-month high
ROCKHAMPTON, Australia (Reuters) – Australia's record floods are causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the state of Queensland and have forced 75 percent of its coal mines, which fuel Asia's steel mills, to grind to a halt, Queensland's premier said on Wednesday.
The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France, left towns virtual islands in a muddy inland sea, devastated crops, cut major rail and road links to coal ports, slashed exports and forced up world coal prices.
"Seventy-five per cent of our mines are currently not operating because of this flood, so that's a massive impact on the international markets and the international manufacture of steel," Premier Anna Bligh told local television.
The Australian floods, which have cut off 22 towns, have been caused by a "La Nina" weather pattern, which produces monsoonal rains over the western Pacific and Southeast Asia.
The La Nina saw Australia record its third wettest year on record in 2010 and is expected to last another three months, the nation's weather bureau said on Wednesday.
Queensland state is the world's biggest exporter of coal used in steel-making.
"Queensland is a very big state. It relies on the lifelines of its transport system, and those transport systems in some cases are facing catastrophic damage," said Bligh.
"Without doubt this disaster is without precedent in its size and its scale here in Queensland. What I'm seeing in every community I visit is heartbreak, devastation."
The flood disaster, say analysts, is forecast to shave around 0.4 percentage points off GDP, which equates to just over A$5 billion of Australia's annual output of A$1.3 trillion.
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