MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A train loaded with iron ore and operated by BHP Billiton ran away without a driver for 92 kilometers before being forcibly derailed in the early hours of Monday, the company and Australian authorities said.
As a result, the world’s biggest miner had suspended all Western Australian iron ore rail operations while an investigation was underway, The Australian Newspaper reported, without citing a source.
A BHP spokeswoman did not immediately comment on whether BHP had suspended all of its iron ore rail shipments.
Australia’s transport authority said it was investigating the incident.
“A Western Australia iron ore train has been derailed near Turner River on route to Port Hedland this morning,” BHP said in a statement.
“No one has been injured. We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation.”
The damage to the train was “substantial”, The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a report.
“At approximately 0440 on 5 November 2018, the driver of a loaded ore train consisting of four locomotives and 268 wagons stopped at the 211 km point. The driver alighted from the locomotive to inspect an issue with a wagon,” it said in the summary of an investigation into a report.
While the driver was outside of the locomotive, the train took off. “With no one on board, the train traveled for 92 km until about 0505, when the train was deliberately derailed at a set of points operated by the control center, about 119 km from Port Hedland.”
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