Coal mining operations in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales are returning to normal after severe storms early last week damaged rail transport links and forced several mines to close. The wild weather last Monday and Tuesday brought up to 400mm of rain to the valley, causing flooding and storm damage.

Flooding of rail tracks and severe storm damage meant that coal deliveries were unable to reach the Port of Newcastle. Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) moved quickly after the flooding subsided to ensure its lines could be used for coal transport. Some haulage began on Thursday afternoon with most services resuming on Friday.

ARTC said in a statement last Tuesday: “Hundreds of metres of ballast was washed away at various locations, with a number of land slips and damage to signalling equipment. High rainfall, severe flooding, strong winds, fallen trees and debris, power failures and fallen power lines have affected the Hunter Valley network, particularly between Maitland and the port.

“A number of track locations are under water and full assessment will not be able to be made until water levels recede. High winds also affected services into Port Botany and the Sydney Metropolitan Freight Network.”

The storms forced Glencore’s open-cut coal mines to close, Peabody Energy closed its Wambo mine and Anglo American’s Drayton operations were disrupted at times from Monday night and the pit was closed fully at 8pm on Tuesday. By 9.30am on Wednesday the Drayton operations were back in full swing. Rio Tinto’s Hunter operations were not affected.

The Illawarra coal mining region around Wollongong was also battered by the severe weather but the underground operations of BHP Billiton were not affected.

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