Australia's Port Hedland clearing out ships as Cyclone Joyce intensifies

From Reuters - January 10, 2018

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australias Port Hedland iron ore terminal was clearing all vessels from its harbor on Thursday as a tropical cyclone intensified off the western Australian coast, Pilbara Ports Authority said.

The ports biggest user, global mining giant BHP, said it was monitoring the progress of the storm, known as Cyclone Joyce, amid forecasts it will reach Category 3 strength by early Friday morning, packing wind gusts of 165-224 kilometers per hour.

The port accounts for over half of Australias iron ore exports, handling more than a million tonnes a day from the Pilbara iron belt, the majority bound for Chinese steel mills.

Pilbara Ports Authority has commenced clearing the Port of Port Hedland of vessels this morning, and expects the port to be fully clear by late this afternoon/evening, the port said in its Thursday statement.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a tropical low had reached cyclone strength earlier in the day and would intensify during the day, affecting the Pilbara region on Friday or early Saturday.

The port is used by three of Australias top four iron ore miners - BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Gina Rineharts Hancock Prospecting.

Australias top iron ore miner, Rio Tinto,uses the port of Dampier, 420 kilometers (260 miles) south of Port Hedland. A Rio spokesman said the company was keeping an eye on the cyclones path.


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