Two cyclones may form off Australian coast: weather agency

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A cyclone is expected to develop off Australia's north-west later in the week, potentially threatening mining operations, while a second cyclone could hit the east coast, the country's weather agency said on Tuesday.

A tropical low is forming south of Indonesia, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said, with a more than 50 per cent chance that a cyclone will develop by Thursday that could hit the north-west coast by the weekend.

Current models indicate the weather pattern is likely to affect the West Pilbara region, which is home to many large iron ore mines.

A second cyclone is also expected to develop off Australia's east coast by Thursday as a tropical low south of Papua New Guinea moves slowly westward, the bureau said.

Should a cyclone make landfall, it will be the second east coast storm in recent weeks after Cyclone Marcia flooded homes and businesses and knocked out power lines on Feb 20.

Insurance Australia Group is facing 3,500 claims totalling up to A$90 million (S$95 million), although the state's mining and agricultural sectors suffered little damage.