Iron ore exports from Port Hedland just hit another record high

AMY COOPES/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone loves Australian iron ore, it seems.

According to data released by the Pilbara Ports Authority earlier today, a record amount of ore was shipped during December, an outcome that bodes well for Australia’s trade position following a shock return to surplus in November.

43.94 million tonnes of ore was shipped during the month, topping the previous record high of 42.875 million tonnes struck in August 2016.

The figure was up 6.8% from the levels reported in November, and left the increase on the year earlier at 17%.

In cumulative terms, 478.9 million tonnes of ore was shipped from the port last year, the highest 12-month total on record.

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.

The surge in shipping volumes corresponded with spot prices for benchmark 62% ore hitting the highest level seen in 26 months in mid-December, rising to as high as $83.58 a tonne, according to data provided by Metal Bulletin.

Last week, iron ore inventories at Chinese ports rose by 90,000 tonnes to almost 111 million tonnes, leaving them at the highest level seen in over two years.

This suggests that restocking was likely a factor behind the surge in shipping volumes and prices witnessed during December.

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