Cyclone Penny threatens bauxite mine in Australia

A New South Wales state emergency services volunteer in front of an emergency vehicle at the headquarters in Sydney. (AFP pic)

SYDNEY: Tropical Cyclone Penny is barreling toward the far north coast of Australia’s Queensland state and is expected to hit land this afternoon near Rio Tinto Group’s Weipa bauxite mine.

The category 1 cyclone, with wind gusts of up to 100kmh, formed in the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria by 7am and is heading east to the remote Cape York Peninsula, according to the Bureau of Meteorology

Penny is expected to cross the coast near the mining town of Weipa, a community of some 3,500 people where Rio Tinto operates a bauxite mine. The company said it is monitoring the cyclone and making appropriate preparations.

The weather bureau forecast damaging winds and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding and said the cyclone may reach category 2 if it moves slower than expected and spends more time over the water before making landfall.