Queensland Rail Optimistic About Mount Isa Line Repairs: Report

- February 25th, 2019

The area surrounding the Mount Isa line produces 75 percent of Queensland’s non-coal mineral output with major zinc deposits nearby.

After one of its railways was struck by flooding earlier this month, Queensland Rail has reportedly stated the repairs could be completed by the end of April.

According to Queensland Rail, the area surrounding the Mount Isa line produces 75 percent of Queensland’s non-coal mineral output with major copper, lead, zinc, silver and phosphate rock deposits located nearby.

The first announcements of flooding came from the statutory authority on February 7 when aerial inspections of the Mount Isa line had shown a stowed freight train was “significantly impacted” by rising flood waters. The train consisted of one locomotive and 80 wagons containing a combination of zinc, lead and copper anode.

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Continued flood waters prevented rail service officials from accessing the site for detailed inspections, though the North Coast Rail Line south of Townsville was reopened a few days later. While repairs to the line were docketed to take 6-12 months to complete, the rail service had expressed it believed fixes could come sooner than expected.

According to Reuters, Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy gave a completion timeline for the repairs on Monday that supported the previously optimistic outlook.

“Our coordinated recovery crew will allow us to condense the Mount Isa Line’s repair time down to eight to twelve weeks, subject to favorable weather and construction conditions,” Easy said. “That would have us reopening the line between late April and mid-May 2019.”

A previous statement from the rail service said 307 kilometers of track between Cloncurry and Hughenden had been damaged, with 204 sites experiencing “extreme” erosion. The Mount Isa track spans over 1,000 kilometers and serves as a link from Queensland’s North West Minerals Province to the Port of Townsville.

Major producers that rely on the Mount Isa line include Glencore (LSE:GLEN), MMG (HKEX:MMG) and South32 (ASX:S32,LSE:S32,JSE:S32). Also affected by the flood is fertilizer producer Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL,OTCMKTS:INCZY), who estimated in early February that the rail closure would cause earnings to drop approximately AU$10 million per week until full production resumed.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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