Northern Queensland miners are bracing for challenging conditions over the next few days as ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen brings high rainfall activity across the Sunshine State.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) downgraded the cyclone to a tropical low just after 3pm Queensland time on Monday and stated that it was unlikely to move back over the ocean at the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Other mines in the firing line of the weather include Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite operation in Far North Queensland and Glencore’s Mt Isa Mines copper-zinc sites and Ernest Henry copper-gold operations.
Although BOM has listed tropical cyclone likelihood as “very low”, or less than 5 per cent, for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, a severe weather warning remained in place at 5am Queensland time on Tuesday.
This includes six hourly rainfall totals of 150-200 millimetres, periods of localised intense rainfall and potential life-threatening flash flooding, with the possibility of six hourly rainfall totalling more than 300 millimetres around the coast and ranges.
“Ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen was located approximately 60 kilometres east-northeast of Georgetown,” BOM stated today.
“(It) is forecast to track slowly east-southeast towards the southern North Tropical Coast and Tablelands and Herbert and Lower Burdekin districts during today then potentially become slow-moving just inland from the coast later today into Wednesday.”
Severe rainfall brought about by a La Niña weather pattern has already wreaked havoc across Australian mine sites during the wet summer of 2020-21.
The Manuka silver mine in New South Wales experienced an estimated $1 million in machinery and infrastructure damage in early December when the site was struck by strong winds and heavy rain.
The Queensland Mines Inspectorate (QMI) has urged miners to have a storm plan in place so sites are prepared for risks such as flooding, high winds, flying debris and explosive misfires before severe weather events occur.
“Getting your site ready for a storm includes developing an emergency management plan for your site, training your staff in first aid and evacuation procedures,” the QMI stated.
“The site must ensure adequate resources, facilities and procedures are available before, during and after a storm.
“Ensure structures and buildings are sound. To prevent movement during a storm, single or multi-modular semi-permanent or permanent units must be mounted and anchored to pre-established concrete and steel pedestals.”
The QMI also reminded miners to ensure every person on site, including contract workers, to be aware of that site’s emergency response plan and check whether communication protocols were in place before severe weather hit.