Epic Floods Close Australia's Coal Mines

Waters causing 'catastrophic damage' to transportation system
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2011 11:52 AM CST
In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, floodwaters are seen at the junction of the Bruce Highway and Capricorn Highway, the main roads south of Rockhampton, Australia.   (AP Photo/Janie Barrett, Pool)

(Newser) – The nearly biblical flood that’s washed over Queensland, Australia, is causing massive damage—including the closure of 75% of its coal mines, which supply most of Asia’s steel mills. “That’s a massive impact on the international markets,” observed Premier Anna Bligh in a TV interview. She said the waters were also causing “catastrophic damage” to the transportation system in the state. “Without doubt, this disaster is without precedent in its size and scale here,” she said.

Queensland is the world’s biggest exporter of coal used in steelmaking, and the production cut could soon affect its exports. Even mines that are producing are hampered by rail lines that are underwater. “In terms of river levels, they might recede by next week,” one flood forecaster tells Reuters. “But these big mining establishments are obviously going to feel the effects for months to come.”

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