Australian bushfires hit coal output, hazardous conditions to return – by Byron Kaye (Reuters Canada – January 21, 2020)

https://ca.reuters.com/

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Mining giant BHP Group (BHP.AX) said on Tuesday that poor air quality caused by smoke from Australia’s bushfires is hurting coal production, as authorities said a reprieve from hazardous fire conditions would end within days.

The warning from the world’s biggest miner showed how an unusually long bushfire season that has scorched an area one-third the size of Germany is damaging the world’s No. 14 economy.

Australia’s tourism and insurance industries have already foreshadowed they face a A$1 billion ($687 million) hit each from the fires. Scores of fires were still burning on the east coast on Tuesday despite thunderstorms and rain in recent days.

Officials in New South Wales issued a high fire danger rating on the state’s south coast, while temperatures were forecast to rise in inland parts of Victoria state and neighboring South Australia on Wednesday.

Combined with strong winds, the hotter temperatures will potentially fan existing bushfires and spark new ones into life, leading officials to declare “extreme fire danger” in some areas.

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