A central Queensland gold mine has invited locals in to take shelter from Cyclone Debbie while others evacuate staff and regional ports wait to assess any damage from the category four storm.
Resolute Mining on Monday allowed staff at its Ravenswood Mine, about 100km west of Cape Upstart near where the powerful category storm is expected to make landfall around 2pm AEST on Tuesday, to knock off to help the local community bunker down.
The company is concerned the cyclone will still be a category two system when it passes over the town of Ravenswood later on Tuesday and has invited locals to shelter at its project site.
“Resolute has assisted in relocating vulnerable local residents and has made the Ravenswood site camp available for anyone seeking safe shelter,” the company said in a statement.
Evolution Mining has evacuated all its staff from its Mount Carlton gold mine, which lies within in the storm’s predicted path.
“The cyclone hasn’t reached land yet but we feel we have taken all practical precautions to prepare Mt Carlton for any potential impacts. Ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors is Evolution’s priority and all personnel have now left site,” the company told AAP.
Swiss headquartered multinational Glencore has reduced staff numbers at both its Collinsvale and Newlands coal mines and is prepared to suspend operations, while BHP Billiton has halted operations at its South Walker Creek coal mine.
Rail freight operator Aurizon said it had closed its facilities in Mackay and Townsville on Monday night and asked all staff to return to their homes.
Coal trains on the Goonyella and Newlands lines have been stowed away, but the Blackwater and Moura lines are still running coal trains into the Port of Gladstone.
The Port of Gladstone, the largest coal export terminal in the state, said Cyclone Debbie had not affected shipping movements yet.
“At this stage, weather reports do not indicate that we will need to formalise our emergency procedures but this will be reviewed at (its) meetings and more frequently if required,” a port authority spokesperson told AAP.
Meanwhile, Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads said the Abbot Point coal terminal, which lies within the cyclone’s forecast path, has been locked down since early Saturday evening.
A department spokesperson said that after the storm has passed they would need to assess any damage and reconnect the port’s marine traffic monitoring system and communication networks.
“When considered safe to do so, we will reopen pilotage areas to commercial traffic and ensure commercial shipping returns to approved anchorages in orderly manner,” the spokesperson told AAP.
The destructive core of powerful but slow moving Cyclone Debbie currently battering the Whitsunday Islands is continuing toward the north Queensland coast at 6km an hour, equivalent to walking pace.
It’s now expected to make landfall just south of Bowen at 2pm AEST, an hour later than previous Bureau of Meteorology advice.
It is expected to remain a category four, with wind gusts of up to 260km/h, when it reaches the mainland, the Met bureau said at 9am.