Floods roil hydropower, corn supplies

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2017/7/5 22:58:39

At least 56 dead, costs hit almost $4 billion

Severe flooding across southern China has forced the world's largest power plant to slash capacity on Tuesday, delayed grain on barges and damaged farms along the Yangtze River, as the death toll rose to 56 and economic costs hit almost $4 billion.

More than 750,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and direct economic losses totaled more than 25.3 billion yuan ($3.72 billion), it said.

The government said it had disbursed 700 million yuan ($103 million) in emergency aid to four flood-hit provinces - Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou.

Rain in the southern provinces is expected to ease in the coming days, but weather forecasters predict downpours will move to Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

In what analysts said was a move unprecedented in its scale, the Three Gorges and Gezhouba, two of China's top hydropower plants, closed as much as two-thirds of their capacity to avert flooding further downstream on the Yangtze River.

The move stoked concerns about electricity supplies from China's second-largest power source as a heatwave continued to scorch northern parts of the country, raising the export prices of coal, the fuel the country uses to produce most of its power.

Coal from Australia's Newcastle terminal rose to its highest price since April, with mining outages tightening supply amid strong northern hemisphere summer demand.

The annual rainy season, which arrived in the second half of June, has hit Central China's Hunan Province, one of the nation's largest hog and freshwater fish producers, the hardest.

High water levels on the Yangtze, Asia's largest river, also slowed barges carrying grain from northern ports to the south, spurring a rise in freight rates and physical corn prices in some regions, analysts and corn buyers said.

Zhang Yi, a purchase manager at a feed producer in Hunan Province, said he had three ships carrying about 5,000 tons of corn stuck on waterways near the port of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, since Friday.

Spot corn prices at major ports along the Yangtze and its tributaries, including Changsha, Nanchang in East China's Jiangxi Province, and Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province, have risen by 30 yuan to 1,800 yuan a ton since last week, according to data provided by China National Grain and Oils Information Center, a government think tank.

China usually transports corn from northern growing regions to the ports in the south. Then the grain is shipped along the Yangtze to central and western provinces including Hunan, Hubei, and Sichuan.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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