Australia Port Hedland iron ore exports to China up 38 pct on year

SYDNEY Mon Dec 2, 2013 4:11pm EST

SYDNEY Dec 3 (Reuters) - Iron ore exports to China from Australia's Port Hedland, which handles about a fifth of the global seaborne market, rose 38 percent in November from the same month last year in another sign of solid demand from the Asian giant.

Shipments to China amounted to 22.3 million tonnes in November, compared to 16.2 million last year. That was down 11.5 percent from 25.2 million in October, a record month for shipments, which can be affected by weather from month to month.

Shipments to Japan And South Korea picked up markedly in November, taking some of China's share. Japan took 2.2 million tonnes, up 38 percent from October, while shipments to South Korea more than doubled to 2.9 million tonnes.

Overall, iron ore exports from the port were 28.1 million tonnes, just off October's all-time peak of 29.0 million and 29 percent higher than in November last year. October had one more shipping day than November.

Iron ore prices have been remarkably stable between $130 and $140 a tonne in the past three months, surprising many Western analysts who had expected a slide into the end of the year.

Port Hedland is used by BHP Billiton , Fortescue Metals Group and Atlas Iron to ship iron ore cargoes, which are expected to exceed 200 million tonnes this year.

The Port Hedland figures do not include iron ore shipments by Rio Tinto RIO.L, Australia's biggest producer.

Rio Tinto is expanding its export capacity by a third to 290 million tonnes from Indian Ocean ports south of Port Hedland on Australia's west coast.

It is due to decide by the end of 2013 on whether to push ahead with a further expansion to 360 million tonnes.

Brazil is the world's second-largest exporter of iron ore, supplying about 30 percent.

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