Although it’s still early yet, there are indications that Cyclone Veronica may have adversely affected freight infrastructure along Australia’s north west coast – where some of the world’s largest iron ore export ports are located.
Veronica weakened out of cyclone-status to a “tropical low” status at about 05:00 Australian Western Standard Time today Tuesday March 26 (17:00 US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday March 25). The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported that Veronica was a 1-in-100 year storm and, in 24 hours, it dropped over 360mm of rain yesterday. More “heavy rain” fell today – at least 137mm at Port Hedland. Further rain is still expected. What’s left of Veronica is forecast to move along the coast and then out to sea where it will dissipate.
The regional red alert has been lifted and the population are no longer required to seek shelter or stay evacuated. FreightWaves understands that initial damage assessments have begun. Although FreightWaves has, as yet been unable to confirm any details, we have been told by sources that there has been some flooding damage to mines and there may have been flooding damage to some port infrastructure. Sources have indicated that iron ore stockpiles have taken a soaking but FreightWaves has not been able to independently confirm this as yet.
FreightWaves contacted the Pilbara Ports Authority, which operates Dampier and Hedland, for confirmation but no one was able to give a statement. FreightWaves has also contacted the major mining companies, Rio Tinto and BHP, for a damage assessment and we are waiting for a response.
Flooding has been confirmed on several main arterial roads leading to / from and around the main ports.
The North West Coastal Highway (which runs past the ports of Dampier and Hedland) has been closed for hundreds of kilometres in both directions owing to flooding, according to the state roads department Main Roads WA. Roads leading away from the port into the interior of Australia are also flooded.
A cross reference of the state road-closure map with the Federal government’s national freight route map, reveals that it is the main freight roads that lead to/from numerous mine sites that have been closed due to flooding. The cross referencing also reveals that the flooded roads are in the same vicinity as iron ore mines and rail infrastructure, lending support (but not confirming) that there may be flooded mines too.
FreightWaves envisages having a more clear picture of the situation tomorrow.