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Ex-cyclone Oswald shuts Qld coal mines

Production at several coal mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin has been disrupted, with some mines closed temporarily, due to flooding and torrential rain delivered by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

Mines owned by Anglo American, Peabody Energy, BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi have been affected by up to 400 millimetres of rain over a 24 hour period. The same tropical low rain system has been responsible for severe flooding across coastal areas of the state that has led to road closures, widespread damage and the evacuation of thousands. Hundreds of thousands of homes were also left without power for up to three days.

Of greatest concern to mine operators has been localised flooding, road closures and damage to infrastructure and buildings.

“Production at some of our operations has been impacted by flooding and temporary road and transportation access issues,” an Anglo American spokeswoman told The Australian.

“Weather conditions in Queensland are now improving which is allowing us to resume work in some areas.”

A breach of levee banks that led to storm water flooding a pit has forced the temporary closure of the Middlemount Mine, jointly owned by Yancoal and Peabody Energy. Mine operators told the ASX they expect production to be affected for up to three weeks. Yancoal’s Yarrabee mine was also closed on the weekend but normal operations are expected to resume this week.

The record rainfall at Gladstone also saw a temporary halt on operations at the Alcan Yarwun alumina refinery.

Aurizon (formerly QR National), have closed the Blackwater and Moura coal rail networks as damage is being assessed, while the Newlands and Goonyella systems are back to normal operations.

Many mines affected by this recent flooding had still not fully recovered from the effects of widespread flooding in 2008 and 2011.

As the world’s leading supplier of coking coal, the interruption to Australian production is expected to drive up international prices, which had been weak before the recent flooding.

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