By Rhiannon Hoyle
SYDNEY--Australian rail operator Aurizon Holdings Ltd. (>> Aurizon Holdings Ltd) said it has declared force majeure on three of its four coal-rail systems in central Queensland state after a ferocious tropical storm hit eastern Australia.
The company on Wednesday said it declared force majeure-which protects against any claims linked to the disruption-on its Goonyella, Newlands and Moura railways. Aurizon said its Goonyella and Newlands systems remain closed and the company "will inspect these systems for any damage once it is safe to do so," a spokeswoman said.
The railways link coal mines in Queensland, which accounts for about 60% of global shipments of coking coal, to key ports along the coast. Still, many mines and port terminals have also been suspended.
On Wednesday, BHP Billiton Ltd. (>> BHP Billiton Limited), the world's top coking coal shipper, said it has closed or reduced production at many of its mines in the region, including its Goonyella Riverside and Peak Downs operations. "Assessments about resumption of operations will be made once the storm threat has passed," BHP said in an emailed statement.
Glencore PLC (>> Glencore PLC), the world's top exporter of thermal coal, said its mines were not damaged by the storm and it expects two suspended operations, Collinsville and Newlands, to return to production within 48 hours.
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