Cyclone Brews Off Australian Oil, Mining Region

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AUSTRALIA — A tropical low has formed off the remote west Australian coast and may develop into a cyclone this weekend, the country’s weather bureau said on Thursday, threatening iron ore mines and offshore oil and gas production.

The tropical low formed about 210 km northwest of Kalumburu, in the northwest of the Western Australia state, and may develop into a cyclone by Saturday as it moves towards the Pilbara coast, the bureau said. 

“Widespread heavy rain is likely in the Pilbara from Saturday evening as the system approaches the Pilbara coast, and significant flooding may result,” the bureau said. 

The Pilbara region is home to key iron ore mines owned by BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd, while the nearby town of Karratha is home to some of Australia’s largest oil and gas projects, including the onshore North West Shelf liquefied natural gas processing plant.

A cyclone would be the season’s fourth, following tropical cyclones Dominic, Billy and Anika. Dominic, the third cyclone of the season, forced the shut-in of several oil and gas operations for nearly a week.

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