Iron Ore Exports From Australia’s Biggest Port Climb

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January 6, 2016

Photo: Pilabara Port Authority

By Jasmine Ng

(Bloomberg) — Iron ore cargoes from Australia’s Port Hedland climbed last month to cap a record year as billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project began overseas sales, joining miners shipping greater volumes into a global market that’s facing oversupply and sinking prices.

Total shipments were 37.55 million metric tons from 37.33 million tons in November and 37.12 million tons a year ago, according to data from the Pilbara Ports Authority on Wednesday. Exports to China were 32.17 million tons from 31.73 million the previous month and 30.63 million a year earlier.

Iron ore plunged in 2015 to post a third annual loss as rising low-cost supplies from Australia and Brazil, the top exporters, combined with contracting demand in China to spur a glut. Rinehart’s project shipped its inaugural cargoes through Port Hedland last month, and managers plan to ramp up output over 2016. The Hedland facility, the world’s largest bulk-export terminal, also handles cargoes for BHP Billiton Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

Ore with 62 percent content delivered to Qingdao fell 0.5 percent to $42.91 a dry ton on Wednesday, according to data compiled by Metal Bulletin Ltd. The raw material, which sank 39 percent in 2015, bottomed at $38.30 on Dec. 11, a record in daily price data dating back to May 2009.

Brazilian Cargoes

Over the full year, total cargoes of iron ore through Port Hedland expanded 7.8 percent to about 446.1 million tons from 413.7 million tons in 2014, according to Bloomberg calculations based on port data. In 2013, the shipments were about 318 million tons.

The increase through Port Hedland, a maritime gateway for miners exploiting deposits in the ore-rich Pilbara, coincide with a jump in shipments from Brazil, which surged to 39.5 million tons in December from 28 million in November, according to government data.

About 145 million tons of new supply will be added to the global market this year and in 2017, according to Fitch Ratings Ltd., which has forecast that prices are unlikely to recover. Rinehart’s project plans to expand annual capacity to 55 million tons, with most output under long-term contract.

Cargoes from Australia will probably climb to 868 million tons this year from 767 million tons in 2015, Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation & Science said last month as it cut its price outlook for 2016. The forecast increase in exports shows that miners in Australia will build market share in China, according to the government.

©2016 Bloomberg News

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