Threat of Cyclone Disrupts Mining in No. 1 Met Coal Exporter – by Ben Sharples and Perry Williams (Bloomberg News – March 27, 2017)

BHP Billiton Ltd. and Glencore Plc are halting some production in the world’s largest exporter of coal used in steel-making, as the biggest cyclone since 2011 to hit Australia’s Queensland nears the state.

South Walker Creek metallurgical coal mine operations will be suspended from the end of day shift on Monday and preparations are under way to manage increased rainfall throughout the week, BHP said in a statement. Glencore is preparing to temporarily halt output from the Collinsville and Newlands mines, the company said in a separate release.

Severe tropical cyclone Debbie is forecast to cross the coast Tuesday morning with wind gusts up to 260 kilometers (162 miles) per hour, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Previous storms in Australia have flooded mines, swamped machinery and led to price spikes.

“The production impact is likely to be from drenching rain at the mines rather than a hit to the ship-loaders or the port infrastructure,” said Robin Griffin, a research director at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Brisbane. “Producers are much better prepared after 2011. Most miners increased their defenses by boosting their levees from a one in 500-year event to a one in 1,000 year event.”

Aurizon, Australia’s largest freight rail operator, has stopped delivering coal to the export ports of Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point, the company said Sunday.

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