January 10, 2019 / 7:13 AM / 12 days ago

BHP says driver of derailed iron ore train has left company

MELBOURNE, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Mining giant BHP Group said on Thursday that the designated driver of an iron ore train that was forcibly derailed last year after a near-100 kilometre dash with no-one at the controls has left the company.

The train, nearly 3 kilometres in length, was en route to the northern Australian coast export hub of Port Hedland in early November, but set off unattended after its driver had left the cabin for a safety inspection, BHP said at the time.

Officials at BHP’s remote control centre in Perth took the decision to force the driverless train, travelling at high speed, off its tracks. Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place in a remote area around 120 kilometres south of the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal.

“The driver is no longer employed by the company. Out of respect for the individual and their privacy we are unable to provide further information,” a BHP spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

While BHP said that it expected some interruption to its iron ore exports after the derailment, which forced the suspension of its rail operations, Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said in November that the miner would meet its commitments to customers.

Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau launched a probe into the incident and is expected to release a report in the second quarter of 2019.

Reporting by Melanie Burton Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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