Tropical Cyclone Megan closes major mine in Australia’s north

Located on an island in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, Groote Eylandt (GEMCO) produces high-grade manganese ore. Credit: Groote Eylandt Mining Company

Residents in Australia’s far north are bracing for destructive winds and intense rainfall as Severe Tropical Cyclone Megan moves closer to the coastline, prompting evacuations and the closure of a major manganese mine.

The category three cyclone in the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria is forecast to cross the coast Monday, according to an update from the Bureau of Meteorology. After making landfall, it’s expected to weaken during Tuesday and move west across the Northern Territory as a tropical low, the bureau said.

The storm has already led to the closure of a manganese mine on Groote Eylandt island, the world’s largest producer of the metal, according to the Northern Territory government. The mine’s production value was A$1.53 billion ($1 billion) in 2022-23, it said. The storm may also impact Shell Plc’s Prelude liquefied natural gas plant off the coast of Western Australia.

The very destructive core of the storm is expected to impact the coast between the Northern Territory and Queensland border with winds of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour, according to the bureau. About 800 people are likely to be evacuated from the Indigenous community of Borroloola to Darwin on Monday, federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said in a radio interview.

Another tropical low storm northwest of the Pilbara coast is expected to remain weak until Tuesday, the bureau said. From Wednesday, it is forecast to move steadily westward across the Indian Ocean and have an increasing chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. At this stage, there is no threat of any direct impacts to the Pilbara coast, it said.

(By Keira Wright)


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