Rio Tinto halts rail, mine operations in Western Australia as cyclone hits


FILE PHOTO: The Rio Tinto mining company’s logo is photographed at their annual general meeting in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

(Reuters) – Rio Tinto, the world’s No. 2 iron ore miner, said on Sunday it was suspending rail operations in the Pilbara region and mining at the Robe Valley operations in Western Australia as a severe tropical cyclone hit the state’s far north.

The suspension comes after Rio, BHP, and Fortescue on Thursday cleared their ships from ports ahead of Cyclone Veronica, which reached land south of Port Hedland, the world’s largest iron ore export hub.

A red alert was issued in Pilbara, with residents between Pardoo and Mardie asked to take shelter and brace for high-speed winds and rising tides, according to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The Bureau of Meteorology said gale-force winds and torrential rainfall of up to 500 millimeters could be expected by Monday.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Sam Holmes

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