Weather still damaging Pilbara mines

The weather issues associated with Tropical Cyclones Dianne and Carlos are still hampering mining operations in the Pilbara region.

A statement from Rio Tinto said the weather conditions are likely to impact on tonnage for the first quarter of 2011, despite the best efforts to continue as many operations as possible.

“Despite ongoing challenges, operations have been maintained at all 14 mines across the region.

"Dampier and Port Walcott (Cape Lambert) operations have continued intermittently since 14 February 2011, with frequent interruptions from the excessive rainfall, swells and winds.

The reformed TC Carlos required the tie-down of all port operations from later today,” yesterday’s statement said.

Cyclone Carlos has built into a  Category 2 cyclone today, and at 2am the cyclone was estimated to be 95 kilometres north-northwest of Port Hedland and 205 kilometres northeast of Karratha and was moving southwest at 22km/h.

A red alert was issued just after 3am today for people in communities between Whim Creek and Mardie, including Point Samson, Karratha, Wickham, Roebourne, Dampier and Mardie.

A red alert is declared when there is a threat to lives and homes, and immediate action should be taken to get ready to relocate to the strongest and safest part of houses or go to the closest welfare or evacuation centre.

The Department of Child Protection has opened a relocation centre at the Karratha campus of Pilbara TAFE.

A yellow alert is current for people in or near the Pardoo and Whim Creek communities, including Pardoo, Whim Creek, Port Hedland and South Hedland.

A yellow alert advises people to fasten cyclone screens and secure boats, caravans, trailers, outdoor furniture, trailers, rainwater tanks and LPG bottles and be aware shops will now be closing.

Vehicles should also be moved undercover, pets and animals kept in a safe area.

In the Mardie and Coral Bay communities, the lowest level of cyclone alert, a blue alert, has been issued.
This alert indicates people should prepare for dangerous weather.

Wind gusts of up to 100km/h are being experienced in Coastal areas near Port Hedland, which are expected to hit Karratha later today before moving to Coral Bay tomorrow.

Tides in Pilbara coastal towns are expected to rise significantly, and residents are warned to remain on alert.

Most of the rainfall is to the west of the cyclone, so rainfall is expected to ease soon after the cyclone passes.

On Monday a mini-tornado damaged buildings and cars  in Karratha during a 10-minute burst of destructive winds which hit just before 3pm.

Residents reporting cars being thrown about, roofing iron ripped off, power lines brought down, fences smashed and other debris blown about, according to WA Today.

“The conditions led to a partial derailment late on 17 February, when a loaded train damaged a single-line section of track 35 kilometres south of Dampier.

"This has prevented trains from entering Dampier, and is not expected to be fully repaired until later this week,” Rio said.

The statement from the miner went on to say train movements to Port Walcott have remained unaffected by the derailment but are now suspended as part of the tie-down advance of TC Carlos.

Image: The Courier Mail

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