Shipping interruptions caused by stormy weather cut iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland terminal in January by 7.8 percent from a month ago, port authorities said on Monday.
The port, used by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, saw exports to China slip to 34.5 million tonnes from 37.4 million tonnes in December, after a tropical low swept across the Pilbara iron ore district on Jan. 27, triggering an emergency clearing of vessels for just under 18 hours.
Overall shipments from the world’s biggest iron ore export terminal fell to 40.3 million tonnes in January from 43.9 million tonnes in December, according to the Pilbara Ports Authority.
Shipping was also suspended for 38 hours at the nearby Dampier port, used by Rio Tinto to ship iron ore, the port said.
The port interruptions would have a minor impact on overall second-half output from Australia, said two equity analysts who spoke on background. But the impact could be overcome if the miners recover the lost time over the next several months, they said.
Iron ore was one of the best-performing commodities in 2016, defying analyst forecasts for a correction on the back of plentiful supply and an expected slip in demand from China, the world’s biggest buyer.
This has prompted producers to mine and ship at or near record levels.