Runaway mining train travels 90 kilometres without driver in Australia

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating a November 5 incident in Western Australia where a BHP train loaded with iron ore traveled about 55 miles with no personnel on board.

BHP's shares closed 0.48 percent lower to Aus$33.39 (US$24.18) in Sydney Wednesday as reports in Britain said the Anglo-Australian firm was facing a £5 billion (US$6.5 billion) lawsuit over the deadly Samarco dam failure in Brazil in 2015.

According to Reuters, one of BHP's customers in China, a steel producer, has not yet received any notice from the miner.

Force majeure means a buyer or seller can not fulfil contractual obligations because of outside forces.

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.

"I don't think any disruption would matter as demand is now focused on low-grade iron ore", said an iron ore trader in the city-state of Singapore.

A runaway train with no one inside which hurtled through the Western Australia Pilbara region reached speeds of more than 150km/h before it was deliberately derailed.

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The train had four locomotives and 268 wagons, the ATSB said.

While no one was injured in the incident, BHP said in a statement on Wednesday the damaged was likely to cause significant delays for the mining company.

BHP said around 1.5 kilometres of its privately-owned railway was destroyed, and expects it will take around a week to fix.

Port Hedland is the world's largest iron ore exporting terminal, used by BHP as well as other miners.

Footage aired by a local television station showed a wrecked locomotive beside a chain of upturned wagons in the country's Outback bushland.

As the track needs to be repaired and wreckage moved, partial rail operations will only be resumed in a week.

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