Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain

HEAVY rainfall has had only a minor impact on production at some central Queensland coal mines, but has disrupted coal loading at key ports and may have caused a Pacific National coal train to derail near Stanwell on Tuesday morning.
Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain Rain disrupts Queensland coal chain

Courtesy Macarthur Coal.

Blair Price

As a safety precaution BHP Mitsubishi Alliance temporarily suspended mining at its Peak Downs, Goonyella Riverside, Poitrel and South Walker Creek operations for roughly 24 hours from Saturday night.

BHP’s Hay Point Coal Terminal stopped shipments over the weekend but shipping from Berth 1 resumed on Monday afternoon, while Berth 2 is expected to reopen next week.

Anglo and Rio Tinto operations were unaffected, while Macarthur Coal’s Moorvale and Coppabella mines received 8 inches of rain on Saturday night.

“Some production work at the mines was temporarily suspended and operations resumed on Monday,” a Macarthur spokesperson said.

Gladstone’s port closed down for 48 hours just after midnight on Monday morning.

A Gladstone Ports Corporation spokesperson told ILN some 315,000 tonnes of coal would have been loaded during that two-day period and the ability to catch up would depend on the weather.

“There is currently 2.25 million tonnes of coal on the ground at RG Tanna Coal Terminal and 218,000 tonnes at Barney Point,” she said.

Railway disruptions are also affecting the state’s coal supply chain with a Pacific National train derailing at 1.40am on Tuesday morning between Wycarbah and Warren in the Blackwater coal system.

Two locomotives and a number of coal wagons derailed. While Queensland Rail is investigating the cause, media reports suggest the derailment was triggered by soil erosion resulting from the heavy rain.

The weather prevented QR from starting its recovery operation until Tuesday.

“Work is progressing well to clear the track so that repairs can begin tomorrow,” a QR spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon.

“The crews are working as quickly as they can in difficult conditions to reopen the line as soon as it is safe.

“At this stage, we are hoping to resume coal train services on one line of the dual track by Monday; however, forecast rain over coming days may delay the process. It will take longer before the second line is operational.

“We will continue speaking to our customers to provide them with details about expected delays and we appreciate their patience.”

The rain did not affect Xstrata’s coal mining operations but the company is keeping an eye on the rail situation.

“We are currently continuing to meet customer needs and monitoring the situation due to recent disruptions to rail in certain areas,” an Xstrata spokesperson told ILN.