Force majeure in place at Rio Tinto Australian coal mine

SYDNEY Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:36pm EST

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SYDNEY Feb 1 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto said on Friday a declaration of force majeure imposed at its Kestrel coal mine in Australia two days ago remained in effect due to damage to a main rail haul line caused by flooding.

Aurizon, the rail operator for the Backwater rail line used by Rio Tinto to haul coal to the port of Gladstone, said on Tuesday the track could be offline for seven to 10 days.

A Rio Tinto spokesman said all Rio Tinto coal mines were operating and that the issue was with the transport of coal.

Force majeure is a legal clause relieving companies of immediate supply obligations to honor sales contracts due to circumstances beyond their control.

Heavy tropical rains over the last week that inundated Australia's eastern coalfields, cut rail haulage lines and shut mines and ports across two states.

More than half the world's metallurgical coal exports come from Australia. It also operates the world's biggest thermal coal export terminal near the city of Newcastle.

The Kestrel mine exports around four million tonnes of coking and thermal coal a year.

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