A cyclone may hit Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine in Australia

AL Circle

A cyclone is expected to hit the north coast of Australia’s Queensland state Weipa on Tuesday and affect Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine while disrupting shipping, reported the weather bureau.

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The Port of Weipa, which handles Rio’s bauxite mine as well as general cargo, remained shut for the third day today as Cyclone Penny moved towards it across the Gulf of Carpentaria. Captain Michael Barnett, harbourmaster for the Cairns region, told Reuters by telephone that the port was expected to reopen on Thursday, January 3.

Two bulk carriers for bauxite export were moved into the Gulf for safety and thus, not in danger.

Rio Tinto ships 30 million tonnes of bauxite annually from Weipa, catering international customers as well as alumina refineries in Gladstone, Queensland. "We are monitoring the movements of Tropical Cyclone Penny in the Gulf of Carpentaria and making preparations appropriate for the situation," a Rio Tinto spokesman told Reuters.

Meteorologist Jonathan Low said the cyclone was expected to cross the coast with strong winds, a storm surge and heavy rain, and could strengthen as it passed over the gulf.

Elsewhere in Australia, seven people drowned between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as people flocked to waterways to escape a searing heatwave with temperatures around 104°F. The heatwave is hitting Australia's agricultural sector at a time when drought has forced the world's fourth-biggest wheat supplier to lower its production forecast. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) lowered its wheat forecast in December by 11 percent to 16.95 million tonnes during the 2018/19 season, the smallest in a decade.

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