Yesterday the Queensland government revealed that helicopter flights had identified at least one bridge in the rail system had been partially washed away.
Landslips left debris on some sections, while in other areas the ground underneath the track had been washed away.
State Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said maintenance teams were reviewing the line west of Toowoomba by foot and special on-track vehicles.
“The scale of the task ahead of us is immense, but the type of work required is not unusual; our track maintenance teams have high levels of experience fixing and repairing tracks after extreme weather events in regional and remote areas of Queensland,” she said.
New Hope’s West Moreton and Acland open cut mines lost 3-4 days of production due to heavy rainfall but the company was impressed with the effectiveness of its flood management systems.
While its Queensland Bulk Handling business will soon resume normal operations as Port of Brisbane facilities continue to reopen this week, New Hope detailed the results of weekend rail inspections.
“Preliminary estimates by Queensland Rail are that it will take a minimum of six to eight weeks to resume railing from the New Acland mine,” New Hope said yesterday.
“Alternative operations and transport plans are now being developed.
“New Hope employees are continuing to liaise with both domestic and export customers in order to effectively manage the current and future infrastructure limitations.
“During the flood emergency, priority was given to supplying domestic customers that generate essential products and services for the southeast Queensland community.
“The company’s multiple mining operations and rail-loading facilities will enable it to have some flexibility over the forthcoming weeks in order to minimise disruption to customers, ensuring sales tonnages are maximised. For example, railing to the port from West Moreton operations will resume on Thursday.”
Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek mine and Syntech Resources’ Cameby Downs mine are also expected to be set back by the disruption to the Western rail line.
Queensland Rail National confirmed to ILN yesterday that the Blackwater rail line was “tracking well for recommencing operations” this Thursday.
Mines affected by the closure of the Blackwater system include Kestrel, Rolleston, Gregory, Curragh, Minerva and Cook as well as Jellinbah, East, Blackwater and Ensham.