Floods put mining at risk

The rain bucketing down across much of Australia is damaging our booming mining industry and costing millions of dollars, with 40 open cut mines affected by flooding in the Bowen Basin.

Mine production across central Queensland have been disrupted, some since September, as heavy rain makes coal mines look more like dams, and makes work impossible.

Mining is worth $38 billion a year to the sunshine state, and companies are now trying to re-assess whether they can meet their export demands.

Michael Roche from the Queensland Resources Council says companies are trying to work out exactly how much they will be losing at the hands of Mother Nature and says the current stockpiles of coal may not meet export obligations.

"For every month you’re talking about the best part of $3 billion value to the Queensland economy – that’s the sort of numbers that are at risk,"

Companies try to do planning for these sorts of events by building up stockpiles," he said.

"But there’s been disruption to mining, there’s been disruption to the rail system.

"And ‘safety first’ always wins out. There’s been a lot of care taken from ports right through the rail system and back to the mines, and some mines simply haven’t been accessible due to flash flooding."

The mining union is accusing the mining companies of poor planning and ineffective water management and the region’s mining union representative says unrealistic targets have been set.

"In recent years, coal companies have been living in a bit of a fool’s paradise, we’ve had more than 10 years of drought," he said.

"The older, wiser heads, that knew about how to set open cut mines up with water management … have retired," he said.

"The double whammy is that they don’t have their mining operations set up to deal with the wet weather," he said.

"So they not only lose production, but they also lose time having to clean their operations up and get them back into running order before they can get back into production mode."

Flood waters throughout regional New South Wales are also expected to affect mining operations, including the Central West and Hunter regions.

(Image courtesy ABC News)

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