Pilbara mines hit with strong wind, heavy rain

Cyclone Lucas is expected to bring gale force winds and heavy rainfall. Image: Bureau of Meteorology.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and Pilbara Ports Authority lifted a cyclone warning on Friday evening Perth time, after the Port of Port Hedland cleared the port of all large vessels.

The Port of Port Hedland took precautions as early as Wednesday when a tropical low approached the Pilbara and Kimberley coasts, urging all large ships to leave by 10pm Wednesday evening in anticipation of large swell and strong winds.

Although BOM downgraded the tropical low, which was to be named Cyclone Lucas on Friday evening, the north-west of Western Australia was hit by strong winds and heavy rainfall.

The Warburton Ranges, located just south of Newcrest Mining’s Telfer mine was hit by more than 100 millimetres of rain on Sunday.

A flood warning was also issued for communities Telfer and Parnngurr, just missing BHP’s Newman mines, Rio Tinto’s Parubadoo and Tom Price operations and Roy Hill’s iron ore mine.

However, BOM stressed that the area might change and that there was uncertainty surrounding the movement and strength of the system, urging mining communities to remain vigilant and continue monitoring conditions.

Mining operations in Australia’s northern regions are already on alert for a larger than usual cyclone season due to a La Niña weather pattern.

La Niña weather patterns typically presents the risk of twice as many cyclones making landfall than those during El Niño years, according to BOM.