Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Watch: Mangled wreckage of a three kilometre-long runaway train in Australia

Mining company is forced to derail the 268-carriage train that travelled 100 kilometres without a driver in Western Australia

A mining company was forced to derail a three kilometre-long runaway train that travelled at high-speed for 100km without a driver in Australia.

Video emerged of the wreckage on Wednesday. No-one was hurt in the incident.

BHP Billiton, the world’s top mining company, halted all train operations in the Pilbara, a major iron ore producing area in remote Western Australia.

BHP said it is working with local authorities to investigate the incident.

The company said the driver was inspecting an issue with the train when the locomotive ran away.

The loaded train consisted of four locomotives and 268 carriages. It travelled 92 kilometers toward Port Hedland before being deliberately derailed from BHP’s remote operations center in Perth.


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Iron ore producers in Western Australia run some of the world’s longest trains. BHP transports material from its large mines - which make up almost 40 per cent of its profits - to Port Hedland, where it is then shipped to customers in China and Japan.

The company has more than 1,000km of rail infrastructure.

BHP said operations continue at its mines, but didn’t give any details on the potential impact on production. The shares rose 1.3 per cent in London amid broader gains among miners.

This is what a large iron cargo train looks like close up

“If there is significant track damage, it could be that train loadings and speeds could be constrained post repairs and restarting of shipments,” BMO Capital Markets said in a note. The bank said BHP’s operations account for about 20 per cent of the global iron ore trade.

The top miners have been looking to increasingly automate logistics. Rival Rio Tinto Group earlier this year completed its first driverless train in Western Australia when it delivered 28,000 metric tons of iron ore along a 280km-route.

BHP earlier this year reported reliability issues with port car dumpers. The producer’s Western Australian operations include five mines and four processing hubs, including joint ventures with Mitsui & Co and Itochu.

While the likely length of the rail stoppage remains unclear, any disruption to shipments from the port could pressure iron ore prices.

The raw material used to make steel soared in October, with the benchmark 62 per cent grade advancing about 10 per cent as Chinese steel mills ramped up production before anti-pollution curbs kick in.

Updated: November 7, 2018 04:18 PM