Fortescue has conceded a train derailment on the second last day of 2023 will dent its WA iron ore output this year, but it remains tight-lipped about the potential of lingering effects. Following queries from The West Australian, a spokeswoman for the iron ore giant confirmed the derailment on December 30 “impacted” January iron ore shipments from its powerhouse WA operations. “A recovery plan has been implemented to optimise rail inload and shipments, and we remain confident in meeting our full-year shipments guidance, as stated in the company’s December 2023 quarterly production report,” she said. “Over the course of the year, shipments change based on operational priorities.” The exact impact on January shipments was not disclosed, but it is believed about 11.7 million tonnes of Fortescue’s iron ore set sail during the month — compared to a monthly average of 16mt. The West previously reported the potential for Fortescue’s January exports being curtailed, based on information provided by informed industry sources. Those same sources have told The West berthing activity of Fortescue vessels at its only Pilbara port is languishing at a nadir not seen since 2018. It is understood Fortescue had shiploader maintenance scheduled for the end of January, but the spokeswoman did not comment as to whether the low berthing activity was due to the maintenance or other factors. On the final Saturday of 2023 a train derailment 150km south of Port Hedland severed Fortescue’s transport link to the Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland, the export gateway for its three iron ore mining hubs. Fortescue pinned the derailment — understood to have involved at least 40 empty wagons — on temperatures edging towards 50 degrees in the area buckling the tracks. The Bureau of Meteorology reported the maximum temperature in Marble Bar — about 170km south-east of Port Hedland — reached 49.3C on the day the derailment occurred. Normal rail operations came back online four days after the derailment, the mining giant has said. Fortescue’s iron ore mines in the Pilbara — Eliwana, Solomon, Cloudbreak, Christmas Creek and Iron Bridge — are connected by 760km of rail to Herb Elliott Port and the Judith Street Harbour towage infrastructure in Port Hedland. The wet magnetite concentrate product from Iron Bridge is also separately linked to Port via a pipeline. These five mines churned out 192 million tonnes of iron ore for the 2023 financial year.