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Port Hedland Iron Exports to China Climb as Prices Sink

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April 6, 2015

Bulk carrier departing Port Hedland, Australia. File image courtesy Port Hedland Port Authority

By Phoebe Sedgman

(Bloomberg) — Iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland increased 3.2 percent last month from February as mining companies in the world’s largest exporter boosted output, hurting prices amid a global glut.

Exports to China totaled 31.2 million metric tons in March, the most since October, according to data from the Pilbara Ports Authority. That compares with 30.26 million tons in February and 27 million tons a year earlier, data show. Total iron ore shipments from the world’s biggest bulk-export terminal were 36.6 million tons from 35.7 million tons a month earlier and 34.4 million tons in March 2014, port authority data showed.

Iron ore prices collapsed 18 percent last month as low-cost producers in Australia including BHP Billiton Ltd., which routes cargoes through Port Hedland, boosted shipments amid slowing growth in China. A call in March by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., which also uses Port Hedland, for major miners to cap supply to revive prices was spurned by rivals, with Rio Tinto Group Ltd. describing the proposal as “hare-brained.” Global iron ore demand will contract this year, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

Ore with 62 percent content at Qingdao sank 34 percent since the start of the year, according to daily data from Metal Bulletin Ltd. The raw material retreated to $47.08 a dry ton on April 2. That’s the lowest price since 2004-2005, based on daily and weekly data from Metal Bulletin and annual benchmarks compiled by Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.

©2015 Bloomberg News

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