Runaway BHP Billiton train derailment could cost $50m in damages costs

Irving Hamilton
November 7, 2018

A huge runaway train laden with iron ore had to be derailed remotely after speeding through the Australian outback for nearly an hour.

A BHP iron ore train has derailed in the Pilbara region of Western Australia while attempting to deliver an iron ore shipment from Newman to Port Hedland.

The footage shows the twisted wreckage of the two-kilometre long train, some carriages partly buried under mounds of iron ore.

The BHP-operated train, which included four locomotives and 268 wagons of ore, travelled 92km with no one on board before it was stopped by being remotely derailed after 50 minutes.

"Obviously it would have been very concerning for everyone involved - BHP and the workforce, and the people of Port Hedland - that a train was traveling down the track without a driver and obviously out of control", McGowan said.

There was no indication of what had caused the train to move without its driver. No-one was injured in the incident.

One and a half kilometres of track were damaged in the incident, and the company expects its WA rail operations to reopen in a week.

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BHP's iron ore operations have since been suspended as a result of the derailment, but the company has said it has enough in stockpiles to continue production around the state.

Industry specialists were confused about why the train would have run away down the tracks.

However, it said, operations would be maintained and the use of reserves would mean there would be no interruption to supply.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) representatives are not as convinced, saying the systems could put jobs and safety at risk.

But it took off without him, and a team of remote train operators in BHP's control room were forced to carry out an intentional derailment.

This week's incident is also not the first time a BHP train has come off the tracks.

BHP suffered a smaller derailment of 40 wagon cars past year and two derailments in 2015.

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