Aurizon plans to re-open coal rail
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MELBOURNE, Feb 4 AAP
February 04 2013, 4:22PM
Aurizon expects to re-open its Blackwater rail route by the end of this week following Queensland's floods but the Moura line's opening to miners has been delayed until the end of February.
Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald and subsequent flooding caused significant damage to both rail systems - particularly Moura's - forcing their closure more than a week ago.
The coal miners who have been unable to meet contracts due to the flooding include Xstrata, Yancoal, Wesfarmers Resources and Rio Tinto.
They declared "force majeure" to avoid liability.
The coal transported on both routes is sent for export out of the Port of Gladstone and to power the Rio Tinto Alcan-owned and Queensland Alumina refineries along with Cement Australia and two power stations.
The Blackwater systems carries the second largest tonnages in Queensland - largest for coal - behind Aurizon's Goonyella, which has not been affected.
At Blackwater, 2km of track was submerged while at Moura, there was 3km of full earthworks formation washout requiring the full replacement of all track and earthworks.
The Moura system would not be fully open until February 25, Aurizon executive vice president Mike Carter said.
He said he was confident once the track repair was undertaken there would be an opportunity for customers to recover lost rail volumes.
With floodwaters having now started to recede in the majority of areas, a proper assessment of the damage to the network could be made.
"The majority of mines have not been as severely impacted as 2011 and have been able to continue operations and stockpile tonnes," Mr Carter said in a statement.
Aurizon, formerly QR National, is Australia's largest rail freight company with services operating across five states.
Aurizon shares closed three cents down at $4.
By Greg Roberts