By Michelle Wiese Bockmann - Jan 12, 2012 5:16 PM GMT+0800
(Corrects to show iron ore also moves from other ports in third paragraph of story published Jan. 11.)
Australia, accounting for 41 percent of global seaborne exports of iron ore, shut its main ports handling the commodity because of an approaching cyclone.
Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the world’s second-largest exporter of the raw material, halted loading at Dampier and Cape Lambert, spokesman Gervase Greene said today. Port Hedland, from which BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) ship iron ore, remains closed after ships were sent away yesterday, Lindsay Copeman, the port’s harbor master, said by phone today.
All vessels at berth or at anchor awaiting loading at the port moved about 40 nautical miles offshore, Copeman said. Of the 12 berths at Port Hedland, BHP Billiton (BHP) operates from six and Fortescue from two, according to Copeman. The three ports account for 94 percent of the nation’s exports, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.
Shipments from the world’s largest exporter of iron ore were an estimated 481 million metric tons of 1.2 billion tons of global trade last year, according to the Australian government forecaster, Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics.