April 7, 2017 - Peabody's Coppabella mine in Australia might have escaped structural damage but its production could still be derailed.
It’s an issue facing every mine in the Bowen Basin — extensive damage to the railway system.
Aurizon estimates that the Goonyella rail system, which it operates and which connects Bowen Basin coal mines to the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal terminals, will take about five weeks to repair.
A spokesperson for Peabody said the damage to the rail network had the potential to affect their coal exports.
“If we can’t get our tonnes to the port, then we can’t send it offshore,” a spokesperson said.
“We are looking at how we can help Aurizon to make the tracks functioning, and anything we can do to help we will help.
“We are looking at alternatives on whether we could potentially utilize capacity at Abbot Point or through Gladstone if there is (availability) to do so.”
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham, who visited the Coppabella mine in Moranbah yesterday, said the biggest impact from Cyclone Debbie had been to infrastructure rather than the mines themselves.
“In order of effect from the cyclone it’s been transport infrastructure, ports and lastly the mines,” he said.
“Yesterday I toured the Goonyella line by helicopter from the start to the finish, and I saw first-hand the damage that was done – this damage is significant.”
Dr. Lynham said it was lucky there was good connectivity between the Newlands line, the Blackwater line and the Goonyella line.
“As of (today) Friday, we will be able to utilize the Blackwater line to get our coal out through Gladstone, so we do have some connection to the coast.
“The next line (to be functioning) in about a couple of weeks will be the Newlands line and then that ships up to Abbot Point.
But the last line to be repaired will be the Goonyella line, which is expected to take around five weeks.
“When we hear something is going to be five weeks out, our task is to try and lower that down to four weeks, three weeks, to get it back
We want back in their jobs as quick as we can...online as fast as we can,” Dr. Lynham said.
“We want workers back in their jobs as quick as we can, we want our resources sector flowing as quickly as we possibly can.”
The full impact on the effect on Peabody will not be known until the line is back and up and running.
Despite the cyclone having minimal impact on the open cut mine, Peabody said production had been affected by the cyclone and they were now in the recovery phase.
“We have got water in the pits… and we’ve got personnel off site that are affected with their livelihoods and their properties that they are repairing and getting back to normal,” a spokesperson said. “But as a whole, it’s business as usual.
“Some of the roads we are still repairing for site access, but as a whole we are still in a recovery phase.”
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham looks over the Coppabella mine.