Iron ore miners wait to evaluate damage from cyclone Christine


Iron ore miners are waiting to begin evaluation of the damage caused by cyclone Christine that raged through northwest Australia on Tuesday.

Port Hedland Image credit: flickr User: The Grateful Dad
Port Hedland
Image credit: flickr User: The Grateful Dad

According to an article on Reuters, key shipping ports of Dampier, Cape Lambert and Port Hedland, the largest iron ore export terminal in the world, were most affected by the cyclone; however reports of damage were not immediately available.

Cyclone Christine forced mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals to suspend shipping until further notice by the emergency authorities.

“As Tropical Cyclone Christine tracks inland, Rio Tinto’s coastal and West Pilbara operations remain closed,” a company spokesman said.

“We are still fully assessing the impact at this stage. We are also focusing on the safety and wellbeing of our employees, their families and our Pilbara communities.”

According to BHP Billiton, it is still too early to assess any damage because port and inland areas are inaccessible.

The Woodside Petroleum’s North West Shelf and Pluto LNG plants, Australia’s two largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities are also located in the Pilbara region.

The North West Shelf and Pluto LNG plants have a combined capacity of over 20 million metric tons per year, which is around 85%of Australia’s annual exports.

Woodside has given its workers the green light to return to work after it evacuated all non-essential personnel on Monday.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reveals that a Red Alert remains in effect for Port Hedland and mining hubs of Tom Price and Paraburdoo.

“There is a threat to lives and homes,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement. “You are in danger and need to act immediately.”

Top Australian supplier Rio Tinto relies on Cape Lambert and Dampier to ship 290 million metric tons of ore next year; however, the company was forced to halt port activities on Sunday.

Exports from Port Hedland reached 28.1 million metric tons in November alone.