Iron ore exports from Port Hedland jumped 14% over the past year to another record high

Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Australian iron ore exports from Port Hedland, the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal, remained rock solid in October.

According to figures released by the Pilbara Ports Authority on Monday, a total of 41.6 million tonnes of ore were shipped, 14% higher than a year earlier.

It was marginally below the all-time monthly record of 42.9 million tonnes in August.

In cumulative terms, iron ore exports soared to 469 million tonnes over the past year, the largest total on record. That was up close to 6% on the levels shipped in the year to October 2015.

The port handles iron ore produced by Fortescue Metals, BHP Billiton and Gina Rinehart’s majority-owned Roy Hill mine.

The group did not release a breakdown of where the ore was shipped, but it’s a safe bet that most of it went to China.

According to Vivek Dhar, a mining and energy commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank, Chinese iron ore port stockpiles have ballooned to the highest level seen in two years.

“Rising seaborne supply helps explain the increase,” he says.

Markets will get further clarification on Chinese demand when the nation’s customs bureau releases international trade figures, including iron ore imports, later Tuesday.

In the year to September 2015, they totalled more than 1 billion tonnes, the largest annual total on record.

Benchmark spot iron ore prices settled at $67.43 a tonne on Monday, according to Metal Bulletin, the second highest closing level seen since mid-January 2015.

Year to date it has risen by 54.8%.

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