MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s Queensland Rail said on Thursday that it expects a rail track hit by flooding this month that has disrupted zinc shipments from major producers like Glencore to be repaired within the next six months.
The 1,000 km (620 mile) rail line is used by miners including Glencore, MMG Ltd and South 32 to carry zinc and lead concentrate from the Mt Isa region, with at least one miner eyeing more expensive trucking.
Analyst and industry sources had told Reuters on Wednesday that they expected the line would be out of action for at least a month.
“There is certainly a lot of work to do, but at this stage we anticipate rectification of the line ahead of the 6-12 months being reported,” the rail operator said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, it is too early for us to be providing more definitive advice regarding repair timeframes for the Mount Isa Line, given flood waters surrounding the site and on roads connecting to the site are yet to recede.”
Queensland Rail did not say where the 6-12 month estimate was reported.
South 32 Chief Executive Graham Kerr said in an earnings call on Thursday that the company was looking into trucking concentrate from its Cannington silver-lead operations. He expected to have a better idea about timing and the impact of the outage in around a week.
A spokeswoman for zinc refiner Nyrstar, which is a customer for zinc from the region, said on Wednesday that it was monitoring the situation “but at this stage are not expecting a material impact.”
London Metal Exchange zinc prices were up 0.7 percent at $2,615 on Thursday in a slightly bid metals market.
Reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE. Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; editing by Richard Pullin