Disruption from Queensland flooding hits port deliveries

Recent floods in Queensland, Australia, were disrupting the rail delivery of zinc exports to the northern port of Townsville, with the line likely to be out of action for at least a month, according to analysts reported by Reuters.

The 1,000 km rail line is used by miners including Glencore, MMG Ltd and South 32 to carry zinc and lead concentrate from the Mt Isa region. Trucking could be used as an alternative, although the cost per kilometre was higher.

Glencore said that its North Queensland operations were continuing and that it was monitoring the transport network situation, while MMG said it was considering the use of trucks.

Townsville port ships about 40% of Australia’s zinc production, some 5% of global supply and equal to about 700,000 tonnes a year.

Line operator Queensland Rail said it was waiting for floodwaters to subside so it could assess the damage, with a 400 km stretch of track closed between the towns of Cloncurry and Hughenden.

“The site, near Julia Creek, remains significantly impacted by flood waters, meaning it is not possible to access the site,” Queensland Rail said.

Haulier Pacific National, Glencore and emergency services were also assessing a stranded 80-wagon train carrying zinc and lead concentrate, and copper metal, which had been moved to high ground ahead of the floods, but was found inundated in an aerial survey last week.

MMG said that at this stage production was continuing with product stockpiled at site.