Queensland mines assess impacts PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 09:34

The price of coal could rise in the wake of the wild weather from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

Heavy rainfall has disrupted production at some Queensland coal and gold mines and major miners are still assessing the impact.

BHP Billiton said rain across Queensland's Bowen Basin had affected roads and other services, but the company was still assessing the impacts on its mines in the region.

"All sites are operating, and we are working to return to normal operations," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Any production impact will be reported in our production report."

Rio Tinto said it had no update on its coal operations at this stage.

But its aluminium operations had been affected, with record rainfall at Gladstone resulting in a controlled, temporary stoppage at the Alcan Yarwun alumina refinery.

The refinery would restart when safe to do so, Rio said.

The Queensland Alumina refinery in Gladstone was also continuing to operate at reduced production rates.

Rio's operations at Weipa, on the western Cape York peninsula, were affected when Oswald first formed but were now operating as normal.

Patersons Securities resources analyst Andrew Harrington said the effects of the rain and floods on the mining sector did not appear to be anywhere near as bad as the 2010/11 disaster that knocked out coal mining and transportation of for about three months.

"However, with the price of coking coal already rising over the past two months, this added concern about supply disruptions is likely to see the price rises continue past $US170 per tonne," he said in a research note.

Elsewhere, Xstrata Coal's Queensland coal operations have not been materially affected by the heavy rain.

"All of our mines are operating within the terms of environmental licences," an Xstrata spokesman said.

However, there had been some interference to some network rail systems, particularly at Blackwater and Moura.

"That is the area that we are monitoring at the moment and looking at contingency plans depending on the kind of level or flood impact that there may be," Xstrata said.

Coal hauler Aurizon (formerly QR National) said the Moura and Blackwater rail systems remained closed due to the effects of the weather.

"Aurizon cannot fully assess some locations because the rail line is still under water," an Aurizon spokesperson said.

"However the current expectation is that the Moura and Blackwater systems will be re-opened within seven to 10 days."

Coal miner Yancoal said heavy rain had affected its open-cut mines at Yarrabee near Blackwater, in central Queensland, and at Middlemount, northwest of Rockhampton.

Production at Middlemount was likely to be impacted for at least three weeks after water breached a levee bank and flowed into the mine.

Pumping equipment was being installed to remove the water.

Production at the Yarrabee mine was suspended for a while over the weekend, but normal operations were expected to restart this week.

Goldminer Evolution Mining has also stopped mining and processing operations at its Mt Rawdon gold mine, southwest of Bundaberg, on January 26 to ensure workers' safety.

Processing was expected to restart later this week.

Mining and processing activities had continued as normal at the Cracow gold mine, west of Bundaberg.

 



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