Runaway iron ore train derailed by BHP in the Pilbara

BHP South Flank

Image via BHP

A train delivering iron ore in the Pilbara region was strategically derailed on Monday after it took off without a driver.

The iron ore heavy train, travelling from Newman to Port Hedland, marks the 4th derailment by BHP over the span of 4 years, raising some concerns as to the management of such trains by BHP.

The train reportedly took off after the driver stopped at a designated stopping point, where it then travelled, unmanned, a distance of 92 km in 50 minutes.

Derailment, executed by remote control technology, occurred at Turner’s Siding, with BHP losing 268 wagons worth of iron ore.

While the total cost of the incident has yet to be confirmed, media reports have suggested the cleanup cost to be around $55 million.

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Previously, BHP derailed two trains in 2015, along with a 40 wagon car just last year.

“We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation,” said a BHP spokeswoman.

“Recovery operations are underway.”

BHP has since suspended rail operations, with the expectation that rail operations will resume within week.

As BHP has a notably large iron ore stockpile, enough to cover the lost rail shipment, concerns over supply have been mitigated.

BMO Capital Markets weighed in saying that, "if there is significant track damage, it could be that train loadings and speeds could be constrained post repairs and restarting of shipments.”

The mining giant boasts five mines and four processing labs across Western Australia, along with numerous major projects across the nation.

BHP plans to roll out completely driverless rail operations by the end of 2018, following in Rio Tinto’s footsteps, with Rio Tinto already delivering their first driverless train back in July of this year.



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