Runaway mining train travels 90 kms sans driver

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The head of mining giant BHP has assured customers it will fulfil its contracts to supply iron ore, despite a dramatic freight train derailment in remote Western Australia disrupting exports of its most lucrative commodity.

The company did not reported the matter to the Australian stock exchange as it is not expected to have a material impact on finances.

"We will be liaising with our customers in relation to our contractual commitments over this period", she added.

Force majeure means a buyer or seller can not fulfil contractual obligations because of outside forces.

The MySteel 62% Australian fines iron ore price has been stronger-than-expected in recent weeks at above US$70 per tonne, rising above $77/t late last month.

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said damage to the train was substantial and it is estimated about 1.5km of track was damaged.

"A lot of people were expecting some kind of rally in the fourth quarter, but this is getting increasingly unlikely", Leszczynski said.

In a statement, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said: 'The driver alighted from the locomotive to inspect an issue with a wagon.

The derailment came after the train ran away at high speed for almost 100 kilometres (62 miles).

"We can not speculate on the outcome of the investigation however we are working with the appropriate authorities and our focus remains on the safe recovery of our operations", a BHP spokeswoman said today.

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Despite the closure of its rail network, BHP's iron ore mines remain open and operating.

Footage aired by a local television station showed a wrecked locomotive beside a chain of upturned wagons in the country's Outback bushland.

More than 130 workers have been deployed to fix the track and recover the wreckage, with BHP saying it would be removed "over the next few days".

"Recovery operations are underway".

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