Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Runaway mining train travels 90 kilometres without driver

Runaway mining train travels 90 kilometres without driver

The train, comprising 268 wagons stretching nearly two miles in length, was carrying up to 35,000 tonnes of iron ore worth about $2 million when the driver alighted to inspect an issue with a wagon and the train moved off without him.

BHP Billiton has suspended all iron ore rail operations in Western Australia after a runaway freight train with no one on board travelled 92km before it had to be deliberately derailed.

With no one at the controls, the 3km long runaway train travelled for nearly an hour, at speeds of up to 110km/h, before it crashed about 210km south of Port Headland.

"We will be liaising with our customers in relation to our contractual commitments over this period", a BHP spokeswoman said.

BHP has told Bloomberg that it "estimated that about 1.5 kilometers of track has been damaged and anticipates the recovery process to take about one week". Nobody was injured in the incident that happened in a remote area around 120 km south of the world's largest iron ore loading terminal in the country's northwest.

Mining giant BHP, which owns the four-locomotive train, chose to derail before it reached the town of Port Hedland near its Western Australia Pilbara site, and flicked the points.

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BHP will rely on its stockpile reserves at Port Headland to maintain operations at the export hub, it said, without commenting on any potential impact to shipments. While the driver was outside of the locomotive, the train commenced to run away.

After traveling about 55 miles, it was deliberately derailed by a company control center in Perth, according to ATSB.

Despite the closure of its rail network, BHP's iron ore mines remain open and operating.

BHP's mine sites continue to operate and it expects a partial resumption of rail operations in about a week.

"We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation".

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