BHPs Port Hedland operations have been shut down as the ‘severe’ rated tropical cyclone Veronica bears down on the West Australian coast. The BOM advised moments ago that Tropical cyclone Veronica is a Category 3, with sustained winds near the centre of 150 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 205 kilometres per hour.
At the time of issue the cyclone is 35 kilometres of 20.5 degrees South, 117.7 degrees East, 95 kilometres east northeast of Karratha and 95 kilometres west southwest of Port Hedland.
The BOM said, “People in or near communities between Pardoo and Mardie, including Port Hedland, South Hedland, Whim Creek, Point Samson, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha, Dampier but excluding Marble Bar, need to go to shelter immediately.”
BHP has confirmed that all port and rail activities have been suspended in the region.
In a release to mine workers today BHP said “Port Hedland is now on red alert, the impacts of Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica are imminent.”
“We strongly encourage all BHP employees and Port Hedland residents to act immediately to put their safety first. Seek shelter immediately.”
The intensity of the slow-moving cyclone is a major concern for operations given it’s growing intensity.
“Safety is our top priority and we continue to monitor the movement of the cyclone. As a precautionary measure, the ports of Cape Lambert and Dampier were cleared of vessels and port operations stopped ahead of the cyclone,” a Rio Tinto spokesman said.
“Rail operations in the Pilbara and mining at our Robe Valley operations have also been suspended. “