Cyclones lead to mining shutdowns in Australia’s north

Two powerful cyclones that hit the Australian coast over the weekend have resulted in several suspensions of mining operations and public evacuations.

Cyclone Trevor hit the northern coast of Australia near the border between Queensland and the Northern Territory as a category four storm on the morning of March 23.

The Northern Territory Government reacted by declaring a state of emergency as it organised public evacuations in the towns of Borroloola, Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar.

In preparation for the storm, Rio Tinto halted work at the Weipa bauxite mine in Far North Queensland.

The company, in an update on Friday evening, reported that start-up procedures at Weipa had commenced in preparation for a return to normal operations as Cyclone Trevor moved further away.

Glencore also suspended operations at the McArthur River zinc mine and associated Bing Bong loading facility, but by yesterday the company had returned to normal operations, according to a Reuters article.

Cyclone Veronica, meanwhile, hit the northwest coast of Western Australia between Karratha and Port Hedland on Sunday as a category three cyclone.

Veronica had yesterday weakened to a category two storm. As was the case with Cyclone Trevor, the cyclone led to a response from mining operators in the region.

Rio Tinto suspended its Robe Valley iron ore operations in a similar fashion to its Weipa suspension. The company also ceased rail operations across the Pilbara and cleared ships from Cape Lambert and Dampier.

“We are focused on ensuring our employees, their families and the broader community are safe,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“As is standard cyclone preparation procedure, all non-essential staff in the region were sent home or flown out of Karratha ahead of the cyclone.”

Fortescue Metals Group and BHP also cleared ships in preparation for Cyclone Veronica.

Additionally, BHP suspended its offshore operations in the Pyrenees, while Altura Mining ceased production at its lithium mining operation on Saturday, maintaining a skeleton crew of just 23 people.

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