SYDNEY Feb 4 Iron ore exports to China from
Australia's Port Hedland, which ships about a fifth of the
global market for the steel-making raw material, fell 3.5
percent in January from December.
The drop was largely due to weaker demand from Chinese steel
mills and the aftermath of a late December cyclone that closed
the port's anchorage for nearly three days.
Shipments to China dropped to 23.31 million tonnes in
January versus 24.16 million tonnes in December, data from the
Port Hedland Port Authority showed on Tuesday.
Analysts have warned China's appetite for imported ore would
wane in the months ahead as industrial growth cools and demand
for steel weakens.
The volume of imported iron ore stacked in China's major
ports has swelled to almost 93 million tonnes ,
the highest since November 2012.
February could also prove to be a lighter month for exports,
given the heavy rains in the Pilbara iron belt, from where the
port's top two users, BHP Billiton and Fortescue
Metals Group, ship around 80 million tonnes per
Fortescue, the world's fourth-biggest producer, last week
revised fiscal 2014 shipments ending June 30 to the lower end of
guidance at 127 million tonnes, citing interruptions caused by
the cyclone and heavy rains at its mines since then.
The company's main Cloudbreak mine was saturated with 500
millimetres of rain over a single week.
Iron ore shipments to Japan fell to 1.43 million tonnes in
January from 2.07 million in December. Shipments to South Korea
climbed to 2.74 million tonnes from 2.02 million tonnes over the
period, Port Hedland data showed.
Overall, Port Hedland iron ore exports totalled 28.23
million tonnes in January versus 29.46 million in December,
according to the port authority.