Iron ore export volumes from Port Hedland fell heavily in February, according to data released by the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) on Tuesday.
The PPA said that exports totalled 35.668 million tonnes, down from 40.297 million tonnes in January and well below the record-peak of 43.937 million tonnes shipped in December last year.
Compared to a year earlier, that was down 2.6%, impacted by the leap year in 2016.
Exports to China came in at 30.194 million tonnes, up 8.2% on a year earlier.
The PPA said shipping operations were suspended for 27 hours and 30 minutes during the month due to adverse weather conditions.
The February figures may have also been impacted by the timing of Lunar New Year holidays in China, along with the fact that the month is only 28 days long.
In cumulative terms, 484.5 million tonnes of iron ore was shipped over the past year, down from the record 485.4 million tonne level set a month earlier.
Port Hedland is the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal, and handles ore produced by Fortescue Metals, BHP Billiton and Gina Rinehart’s majority-owned Roy Hill mine.
On Monday, the spot price for benchmark 62% fines slid 1.74% to $89.73 a tonne, according to Metal Bulletin, leaving it at the lowest level since February 10.
It has now fallen 5.4% since hitting a multi-year high of $94.86 a tonne on February 21, trimming its advance this year to 13.8%.