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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An emerging El Nino weather pattern is likely to have only a modest impact on crops and mining in Australia and could benefit sugar cane growers in Queensland, a senior forecaster said.

Drier conditions have already settled in over much of the country, with August rainfall to date only about 20 percent of normal, said Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre.

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