Northeast Australia on Cyclone Watch as Grant Rebuilds Power

Former tropical cyclone Grant may redevelop into a category one storm over northeast Australia late tomorrow after being downgraded and drenching parts of the nation’s Northern Territory, the bureau of meteorology said.

A cyclone watch is in effect for areas in eastern Queensland state, from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait in the north to the mouth of the Gilbert River about 800 kilometers (497 miles) south, the weather bureau said. An earlier cyclone watch for areas of the Northern Territory to the west of the Gulf of Carpentaria was canceled.

Grant, which was expected to cross the coast east of Darwin Dec. 26, weakened to below cyclone intensity and was downgraded. Rains and strong winds continued to batter towns along the storm’s path southeast of the Northern Territory capital, cutting off parts of the Stuart Highway and leaving hundreds of residents stranded, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.

Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. suspended a uranium mine for a day Dec. 25, while OZ Minerals Ltd. said a train carrying its copper concentrate was derailed because of bad weather.

The storm may move east into the Gulf of Carpentaria later today or overnight and may reach tropical-cyclone intensity tomorrow or the next day as it makes landfall near the northern tip of Queensland, the weather bureau said.

Heavy rains may cause flooding in areas around the gulf in the Northern Territory and Queensland and tides will be higher than normal, the weather bureau said. BHP Billiton Ltd., which owns a manganese operation in the area, said it is “closely monitoring” the path of the storm.

Train Derailed

Energy Resources said the storm passed within 100 kilometers of its Ranger uranium mine, and operations at the site were suspended and all nonessential personnel evacuated. Activities resumed the following day and the impact was minimal, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange today.

A train owned by the Australian unit of Greenwich, Connecticut-based railroad operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc. derailed yesterday because of the floods as it traveled north to Darwin, the company said in an e-mailed release today.

Wagons with containers carrying items including copper concentrate derailed into the Edith River. The train was carrying as much as 1,500 dry tons of copper concentrate owned by OZ Minerals, the Melbourne-based company said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Xstrata Plc said today its McArthur River zinc, lead and silver mine in the area “remains unaffected by flooding” and “production for the month is continuing as planned.”

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