SYDNEY, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Australian rail operator Asciano said union workers had begun a two-day strike over wage demands that will prevent 600,000 tonnes of coal from reaching port.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union announced plans for the industrial action earlier this week after refusing Asciano subsidiary Pacific National Coal's latest wage offer in New South Wales, where the company hauls 80 percent of the coal produced in the state.
'It needs to be understood that the 600,000 tonnes of delivered coal lost as a result of this action cannot be recovered in the future,' Pacific National Coal director David Irwin said in a statement.
'New South Wales coal chains operate at maximum capacity every day of the week, meaning these losses are real,' he said.
Pacific National's major customers include Xstrata and Whitehaven Coal.
The action is scheduled to end at 0100 GMT on Feb. 10.
The Port of Newcastle in New South Wales is the world's largest export terminal for coal.
Australia's thermal coal production is forecast to rise 10 percent in fiscal 2013 to 246 million tonnes, according to Australia's Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.
Pacific National expects the union action to affect up to 40 trains carrying more than 300,000 tonnes of coal a day worth more than $25 million a day at current prices.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman) Keywords: AUSTRALIA COAL/ASCIANO
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