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Monday, February 6, 2012

4 coal mines shut in Australia on floods

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Reuters reported that heavy rains shut four coal mines in eastern Australia on Friday as military helicopters evacuated stranded residents from inundated towns and authorities warned of further flash flooding.

Emergency services authorities said that more than 11,000 people in Queensland state have been isolated by the flooding and thousands had been evacuated.

Whitehaven Coal said it had shut four mines due to heavy rainfall, but the mines were not flooded and no equipment had been damaged. Other miners and liquefied natural gas producers reported their operations had so far not been affected.

The Queensland Resources Council said many of the state's mines were still carrying water from last year's wet season and it was monitoring mining areas.

A spokeswoman for Xstrata, the world's largest thermal coal exporter, which has mines in both New South Wales and Queensland, said it was not aware of any impact due to the wet weather. In the northwestern district of Queensland, Xstrata said it had resumed operations at its Ernest Henry copper mine following a short suspension last week to ensure the safety of staff.

Another coal major, Rio Tinto, said it would not comment on production.

The Bureau of Meteorology said heavy rains were likely to add to already overflowing rivers and warned of localised flash flooding. It cancelled a severe weather warning for parts of New South Wales.

The 2011 floods also damaged crops and inundated coal mines, pushing up prices for coal. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and accounts for roughly two-thirds of global trade of coking coal, used for steel production.

(Sourced from Reuters)

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