Global ore miner Riot Tinto has reopened a rail line connecting its Western Australia mining projects after a derailment on the line.

The loaded train, which was carrying around 30 wagons, derailed at the weekend in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Although there were no injuries as the train was unmanned, it was thought that the derailment could have damaged the tracks.

While the clean-up is under way and an investigation into the cause of the derailment is ongoing, a speed limit has been put in place for all trains on the line, a Rio Tinto spokesperson told Reuters.

The derailment took place around 20km from the port of Dampier in the Pilbara region wherein Rio Tinto has a number of projects that utilise the train lines. One such project, the Gudai-Darri Mine was upgraded to use the autonomous trucks and trains in 2022. In total, 17 mines are connected by the near 2,000km rail network. It is the largest privately owned rail system in Australia and includes the world’s first automated rail haulage network.

Most trains operated by Rio Tinto can hold as much as 118 tonnes of ore. While the line was shut down, the company called upon reserves held at the port to ensure there was no drop in supply. Rio Tinto has not said what effect this may have on supply and provision of ore in the future.

The derailment came just a week after Rio Tinto agreed a deal with Australian rail company Gemco Rail to build rail cars in the region. A$150m ($101.4m) is being invested by Rio Tinto over six years for the purchase of 100 rail cars built in the region. It will also build a new rail car construction facility in the area, which will also make bearings for the train cars. Rio Tinto already operates around 14,000 rail cars in Pilbara, but none come from the region itself.

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