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Cyclone Drives Bulker Into Wharf, Suspending Manganese Mine's Operations

Australia manganese mine
Operations are suspended at the manganese mine after it was impacted by a cyclone (Anindilyakwa Land Council file photo)

Published Mar 18, 2024 1:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

One of the world’s leading manganese mines was damaged on Monday by a cyclone impacting the northern reaches of Australia with reports suggesting the damage to the wharf could require extensive repairs. Australia’s Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO), jointly owned by South32 and Anglo-American, confirmed that operations had been suspended at its facility while they were monitoring the storm and assessing structural damage to the wharf.

The Cyprus-registered bulker Anikitos (31,236 dwt) was driven into the wharf according to reports from the Australian Financial Review. The newspaper has been unable to confirm reports that the 623-foot (190-meter) bulker, which was loading ore, sustained hull damage holing one of its ballast tanks. The newspaper published pictures of the ship driven against the dock during the storm while reporting it had loaded 41,000 tonnes of metal but failed to depart before the storm hit. They are reporting that divers will be surveying the vessel’s hull.

 

 

Cyclone Megan, referred to by the Australian metrological service as a “severe tropical cyclone” hit the region on Monday, afternoon. The storm was reported to have top wind speeds of 105 mph with averages between 70 and 80 mph and was expected to drop 12 to 19 inches of rain.

While Groote Eylandt, an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria located nearly 400 miles east of Darwin, Australia, did not receive a direct impact from the storm, it experienced strong winds and heavy rain. 

The island is the primary location for manganese mining and exports with the newspaper reporting 10 to 12 ships load more than 50,000 tonnes of manganese each month for export. The mine produced 5.9 million tonnes of the metal in 2023 with the largest portion of the exports going to China. The Anikitos shuttles between Australia and South Korea transporting the exports.

GEMCO is the only mining company operating on the island and was looking to expand its mining operations. Separately, mining company Glencore which also operates a zinc mining operation in the region evacuated workers ahead of the storm.

The storm was predicted to move inland and weaken overnight and into Tuesday.