Miner BHP expects one-week recovery after Australian train derailment

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The world's biggest mining company said that it was working to fix a stretch of track nearly a mile long that was damaged when the train was forcibly derailed after speeding 57 miles without a driver through the Australian outback early on Monday morning.

ATSB posted a few details of the incident, noting that the train consisted of four locomotives and 268 railcars.

Former train workers told 9NEWS if the driver left the train idling with the brake on, it's likely gravity caused the train to move, particularly because the tracks are on steep terrain. It was eventually deliberately derailed, which was operated by a control center.

The driver of the BHP-operated train got out to inspect an issue with one of its 268 wagons early yesterday and it took off without him, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

A huge runaway train laden with iron ore had to be derailed remotely after speeding through the Australian outback for nearly an hour. No one was injured and the incident is under investigation. It averaged about 68 miles per hour and traveled for some 50 minutes before it was derailed, according to Australia's ABC.

"We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation", a BHP spokeswoman said.

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WA Premier Mark McGowan said he had not been briefed on what happened but it would have been very concerning for everyone involved.

The derailment came after the train ran away at high speed for almost 100 kilometres (62 miles).

BHP's rail operations in Western Australia have now been suspended.

And as the company grapples with how, exactly, one of its trains came to be traveling driverless, it's worth noting that another iron ore company has been working to develop (purposely) driverless trains in Australia.

Shaw and Partners analyst Peter O'Connor said at a run-rate of 270-280 million tonnes per annum, BHP's Pilbara operations represented around 18% of the global seaborne iron ore trade.