Hedland Port facing emergency closure

Port that ships iron ore for miners is evacuating as cyclone threat rises off the coast of Western Australia
Hedland Port facing emergency closure

(Bloomberg) Ports that ship iron ore for miners including Rio Tinto Group and BHP (BHP) Billiton Ltd. are evacuating as a tropical low off the coast of Western Australia is set to strengthen into a cyclone.

Port Hedland began anchorage evacuations today and the last ship is expected to clear the channel by 7 p.m. local time Monday, when the port will officially close, Pilbara Ports Authority said in a statement. BHP said it is evacuating vessels from the port’s inner harbor. Dampier is aiming to be clear by 3 p.m. today, according to Pilbara Ports Authority.

Closures may curb exports through Port Hedland, located 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) north of Perth and used by BHP and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. to ship iron ore. Rio Tinto exports through Dampier. The tropical low, 80 kilometers west-southwest of Derby, may strengthen into a Category-1 cyclone by about 11 p.m. local time Monday, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The port authority says it is expecting a relatively short closure.

“It usually results in maybe a day of stoppages and then they’re back to normal the following day,” James Wilson, a Perth-based analyst at Morgans Financial Ltd., said by phone. “It’s a hindrance to producers as they’d like to go and ship out as many tons as they can, as often as they can.”

Iron ore shipments through Port Hedland reached a record 413.7 million tons last year, according to port authority data. More than 80 percent was shipped to China, the data show.

Apache Corp. (APA), an energy producer with oil and gas assets in Australia, is making safe all facilities in the storm’s forecast radius to gales and is evacuating non-essential personnel from offshore operations in the area, it said in an e-mailed statement. Australia’s cyclone season runs from Nov. 1 to April 30, according to the weather bureau.

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by Tom Holmes

Marine Trader Editor

Tom Holmes is the Editor of Marine Trader and readmt.com, the official publications of the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA). To discuss news, features or contributing to Marine Trader please get in touch.

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