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Western Australia’s iron ore export ports remain shut as cyclone set to pass Monday

Western Australia’s iron ore exporting Port Hedland and Port Dampier remained closed Monday after suspending operations on Friday due to an approaching cyclone, Pilbara Ports Authority said.

“Pilbara Ports Authority will provide an update once the situation changes and operations recommence,” the authority said in a statement. “Once the ports re-open, Pilbara Ports Authority will also provide the total number of hours each port was shut down,” it added.

Mining giant BHP said in a statement Monday that Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services has lifted the Red Alert for Port Hedland.

“We have deployed Emergency Services Officers to site to assess overall site impacts. Once they have declared the site safe, BHP will send out area owners to begin their assessment on any damage to operations,” the company said, adding that any impact to production relating to the cyclone will be reported in its next operational review.

Last week, Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said the disruption to seaborne iron ore supply was expected to be roughly 10 million mt if the ports were shut for five days. “A more serious disruption is possible if iron ore mines are flooded in the Pilbara, but that outcome appears unlikely,” he said at the time.

BHP did not comment on the impact, if any, to mining operations. Fellow mining giant Rio Tinto was not available for immediate comment.

Port Hedland had a monthly throughput of 39.4 million mt in February, of which 39.2 million mt was iron ore exports, edging up less than 1% from a year earlier, Pilbara Ports Authority said earlier in the month.

Over July-December last year, Dampier shipped 71.24 million mt of iron ore, according to data from the Pilbara Port Authority.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said Monday in its latest update that the Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Veronica was 50 kilometers east northeast of Karratha and 140 km west of Port Hedland.

“The cyclone has started to increase in speed as it moves west just off the central Pilbara coast. The system is continuing to weaken but remains a Category 2 system,” BOM said in a statement.

“Veronica is forecast to weaken further this afternoon and will continue to move towards the west just off the central Pilbara coast,” it said, adding that it is forecast to weaken below tropical cyclone intensity by Monday evening.
Source: Platts

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