Runaway mining train travels 90 kilometres without driver in Australia

Irving Hamilton
November 7, 2018

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. It had been travelling from Newman to Port Hedland when the driver got out at a siding to inspect an issue with an ore vehicle, before the train started moving again.

Mining giant BHP, which owns the four-locomotive train, made a decision to derail before it reached the town of Port Hedland near its Western Australia Pilbara site, and flicked the points.

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

BHP said around 1.5 kilometres of its privately-owned railway was destroyed, and expects it will take around a week to fix.

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

BHP deliberately derailed the train following a runaway incident where the train took off while the driver had left the cabin to investigate an issue.

In July rival mining giant Rio Tinto clocked up a world first when its maiden driverless train voyage carried 28,000 tonnes of iron ore 280 kilometres from its Mount Tom Price mine to a WA port.

BHP's shares were trading 1.21 percent lower at AUD 33.14 in Sydney Wednesday amid reports in Britain that the Anglo-Australian firm was facing a GBP 5 billion (USD 6.5 billion) lawsuit over the deadly Samarco dam failure in Brazil in 2015.

Nineteen people were killed and a wave of toxic waste was unleashed when an dam burst at the mine in one of Brazil's worst environmental disasters.

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