Metals News
Australia's Port Hedland Dec Iron Ore Shipments Up 1.6 mln/t
industry news

SYDNEY Jan 6 (Reuters) - Iron ore shipments from Australia's Port Hedland, one of the world's largest export terminals, rose to 21.4 million tonnes in December from 19.8 million tonnes in November, data released by the port authority on Friday showed.


Shipments to China, the port's biggest destination increased to 16.6 million tonnes from 14.7 million tonnes in November, according to the data.


The modest rise suggested a period of destocking of inventories by Chinese steel mills early in the fourth quarter of 2011 had concluded, according to ore traders.


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


Iron ore prices in China, the world's biggest market, inched up on Friday as customers sought to replenish stockpiles, but the traditional absence of big purchases ahead of the lunar new year holiday later this month could push shipments from the port down in January.


Offer prices for 61.5 percent Pilbara fines rose $1 to$139-141 per tonne including cost and freight on Friday, industry consultancy Umetal said, and they have now increased $3since markets reopened on Wednesday.


The major indexes have also made gains, and Platts' 62 percent index ended at $141.5 per tonne on Thursday, up 1.8 percent from the previous close.

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