February 7, 2020 / 3:23 AM / 20 days ago

Australia's iron ore ports cleared ahead of cyclone: Pilbara Ports Authority

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s key iron exporting ports have been cleared ahead of a cyclone that is due to make landfall on Saturday, the port authority said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Ships waiting to be loaded with iron ore are seen at the Fortescue loading dock located at Port Hedland, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia December 3, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

“The Port of Port Hedland has moved to Cyclone Alert Stage 3 – Clear Port,” Pilbara Ports Authority said in a notice.

“The Port Of Dampier has completed Stage 3 – Clear Port and will be moving to shut down,” it said.

Port Hedland is the world’s biggest export point for iron ore and is used by BHP Group, Fortescue and billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, while Rio Tinto exports out of Port of Dampier.

BHP and Rio said on Thursday they were monitoring the situation and making preparations ahead of Saturday, when a tropical low off the coast of Western Australia was forecast to develop into a category 3 cyclone that was set to make landfall in the Pilbara area.

“Gales expected on the Pilbara coast this evening or overnight,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in an alert on Friday.

“Destructive winds to commence on the coast Saturday morning,” the bureau added.

Rio shipped out 327.4 million tonnes of the steel making ingredient last year, while BHP shipped out 240 million tonnes and Fortescue shipped out 173.5 million tonnes.

A series of cyclones last year crimped exports in the first quarter.

(This story corrects Fortescue iron ore shipment figure in penultimate paragraph)

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Aditya Soni

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