Economy

BHP derails runaway train in Pilbara

BHP derails runaway train in Pilbara

In a statement, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said: "The driver alighted from the locomotive to inspect an issue with a wagon".

The loaded train consisted of four locomotives and 268 wagons. "The driver alighted from the locomotive to inspect an issue with an ore auto", the Australian Transport Safety Bureau stated.

"There was no hesitation in derailing that train because it posed a safety risk down the track", Port Hedland Mayor Camillo Blanco said.

MELBOURNE, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Mining giant BHP Billiton expects some interruption to its Australian iron ore exports after a almost 3-km-long train loaded with the commodity was forcibly derailed this week after running away en route to a key shipping hub.

The miner suspended all of its rail operations on Monday after it derailed the iron ore train, damaging 1.5 kilometres of track and crushing numerous 268 fully-laden wagons in the process. The ATSB has launched an investigation into Monday's incident.

'We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation, ' a BHP spokesperson said.

Western Australia's premier, Mark McGowan, told ABC that it was clear "extraordinary measures" had been necessary.

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The train was traveling on BHP's rail line from Newman to Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

There was no indication of what had caused the train to move without its driver.

The train derailment happened about 5:30am on Monday and was coordinated from BHP's remote operations centre in Perth, about 1,500km away.

The MySteel 62% Australian fines iron ore price has been stronger-than-expected in recent weeks at above US$70 per tonne, rising above $77/t late last month.

BHP will rely on stockpile reserves of iron ore at Port Headland to maintain its port operations.

The Rio Tinto company says it completed its first delivery of iron ore using an autonomous train in July.