April 5, 2012 / 7:29 AM / 5 years ago

Iron ore exports to China slips after cyclone at Australian port

SYDNEY, April 5 (Reuters) - Iron ore shipments to China through Australia's Port Hedland were down modestly to 14.0 million tonnes in March from 14.58 million in February, according to port authority data, in part reflecting weather-related disruptions to shipping.

Total iron ore shipments from the port dropped to 18.66 million tonnes in March from 19.58 million tonnes a month earlier, according to the data.

Port Hedland authorities closed the anchorage for 66 hours and the port for a total of 52 hours in mid-March due to Tropical Cyclone Lua, which crossed the coast 100 km (60 miles) north of the facility.

BHP Billiton is the port's biggest user, followed by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Both companies ship the bulk of their ore to China.

Japan was a distant second, importing 2.30 million tonnes in March via Port Hedland and South Korea no. 3 with March imports of 1.63 million tonnes.

Benchmark iron ore with 62 percent iron content was trading steady $147.60 a tonne, based on data from Steel Index, near the five-month high of $147.70 reached last week.



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