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Pilbara operations resuming after Cyclone Veronica

Australian mining companies are gradually bringing their Western Australia operations back online after Tropical Cyclone Veronica.

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Pilbara operations resuming after Cyclone Veronica

Rio Tinto said that its iron ore operations in the Pilbara are progressively resuming following the passing of Cyclone Veronica.


However the miner has declared force majeure on certain contracts after initial inspections uncovered some damage to the Cape Lambert A port facility. Rio said it was working with its customers to minimise any disruption in supply.


“The impact of the disruption to production caused by the cyclone and repairing the damage sustained at the port facilities, combined with the damage caused by the fire at Cape Lambert A in January, will result in a loss of approximately 14 Mt of production in 2019.


“As a result Rio Tinto’s Pilbara shipments in 2019 are expected to be at the lower end of the 338 and 350 Mt (100% basis) guidance provided.


“Safety remains our top priority as we ramp up operations, and undertake the necessary remediation work, following the passing of the cyclone.”


BHP also highlighted “safety as our highest priority” as it confirmed that its port and rail operations in Port Hedland were ramping up once again after having been suspended its due to the cyclone.


“While initial inspections show no major damage to our operations, isolated flooding both on site and sections of the rail leading into the port has limited train movements,” said BHP. “Consequently, the port is currently operating at reduced rates and not expected to return to full capacity until later this month.


“Our preliminary estimate of the impact of Tropical Cyclone Veronica is a reduction in production of approximately 6-8 Mt (100% basis), and as a result, our 2019 financial year production and unit cost guidance are currently under review.”


The group added that final production impacts and revised production and unit cost guidance would be disclosed once they are finalised, adding that it was engaging with customers with an intention to meet contractual commitments.


Fortescue Metals Group said earlier that it was also resumes shipping operations following Cyclone Veronica.

“As advised by the Pilbara Port Authority (PPA), shipping operations from Port Hedland port were suspended on the morning of Friday 22 March 2019. The PPA reopened the port on the morning of Tuesday, 26 March 2019, and Fortescue recommenced shipments during the afternoon from inventory at the port.

“On Saturday 23 March 2019, rail operations were suspended due to weather conditions. Heavy rains caused by Cyclone Veronica have resulted in localised flooding that is now subsiding.”

Fortescue added that its mining and processing operations continued throughout, and there were sufficient ore stocks at Port Hedland for shipping to resume. Like BHP and Rio Tinto, Fortescue said it too was currently working with customers to reschedule shipments delayed by the closure of the port.


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