BHP runaway train derailment leaves miner flagging iron ore shortfall amid clean-up


Updated

November 07, 2018 17:13:33

BHP does not believe its stockpiles of iron ore at Port Hedland, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, will be sufficient to meets its contracts with customers following the deliberate derailment of an out-of-control train.

Key points:

  • BHP says it expects its Pilbara iron ore rail operations will resume in “about one week”
  • More than 130 workers have been sent to repair the damaged train line
  • The derailment is being investigated by the ATSB, rail safety regulators and BHP

The miner suspended all of its rail operations on Monday after it derailed the iron ore train, damaging 1.5 kilometres of track and crushing many of the 268 fully-laden wagons in the process.

BHP said yesterday it planned to use its stockpile reserves at the port in order to maintain supply over the coming days.

However, the company now says it expects the reserves will not be sufficient to cover the period of disruption until partial rail operations can resume in “about one week”.

“We will be liaising with our customers in relation to our contractual commitments over this period,” a BHP spokeswoman said.

The train derailment happened about 5:30am on Monday and was coordinated from BHP’s remote operations centre in Perth, about 1,500km away.

The driver had stopped at Hesta Siding to check a wagon, but the train — en route from Newman to Port Hedland — took off without him and careered 92 kilometres down the track before being derailed at Turner Siding.

Vision of the wreckage showed the force of the impact caused many wagons to be crushed or tipped over, with others shunted off the track.

BHP ‘cannot speculate’ on investigation

More than 130 workers have been deployed to repair the track and recover the wreckage, with BHP saying it would be removed “over the next few days”.

In a statement, the company said “material logistics” to enable repair of the track were “well advanced”, with more workers expected to be assigned as the work progressed.

“We cannot speculate on the outcome of the investigation, however we are working with the appropriate authorities and our focus remains on the safe recovery of our operations,” the BHP spokeswoman said.

Despite the closure of its rail network, BHP’s iron ore mines remain open and operating.

Separate investigations into the train derailment are being conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and BHP.

The ATSB said it expected to finish its investigation by the second quarter of 2019.

Topics:

rail-transport,

rail,

iron-ore,

mining-industry,

port-hedland-6721,

perth-6000,

wa

First posted

November 07, 2018 16:53:09



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