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Mines, ports wait for Cyclone Debbie

AAP logoAAP 27/03/2017 Marty Silk

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Gold and coal mines and ports on the central Queensland coast are bracing for the impact of Cyclone Debbie, with trains and shipping halting ahead of the huge storm system's arrival.

Some mines are expecting lost production but the larger concern for miners is the disruption of rail and shipping in the wake of the cyclone, which is due to make landfall near Bowen about 0800 AEST on Tuesday morning.

The Queensland government has taken the precaution of closing ports between Townsville and Abbot Point, one of the most important deepwater coal export terminals in the country, with dangerous storm tides and flooding possible when Cyclone Debbie makes landfall near Bowen.

The Port of Gladstone, the largest coal export port in the state, remains open for the time being.

Rail operator Aurizon said unloading of coal trains has ceased at the ports of Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point following the closures.

A company spokesperson said the Central Queensland Coal Network remained open but trains in the Goonyella and Newlands systems have been stowed, or are in the process of being stowed.

Aurizon said coal train services in the Blackwater and Moura Coal systems into the Port of Gladstone are continuing to operate for the time being.

Some coal mines in the Bowen Basin and at least one gold mine said they were also prepared to temporarily shut down operations if needed.

Swiss multinational Glencore said it is set to temporarily suspend work at its two coal mines at Collinsville and neighbouring Newlands, about 70 kilometres south-west of Bowen.

The weather closes in on Airlie Beach. © AAP Image/Dan Peled The weather closes in on Airlie Beach. However, the company does not expect the production interruption to have an impact on its annual production forecasts.

"We are well prepared for cyclones and floods and have enacted our inclement weather procedures at each operation to ensure the health and safety of our people and security of our mine sites," a Glencore spokesperson told AAP.

"We have reduced staffing levels at both mines and provided our local workforce with the opportunity to get home to their families and secure personal property."

QCoal said work at its Northern Hub operation was continuing as of 1300 AEDT on Monday, however the company was monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of everyone on site.

"QCoal is also supporting our personnel who need to evacuate or make other preparations in light of the impending cyclone," a spokesperson told AAP.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is also monitoring the situation as its Mount Carlton project, 75km west south-west of Bowen, sits directly in the forecast path of the cyclone.

Some industry insiders do not expect the cyclone to be as damaging as floods in 2010/11 as rainfall across the region has been low in recent months, reducing the likely impact of flooding.

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