Port Hedland just exported more iron ore than ever before

Image: Port Hedland Port Authority.

Iron ore export volumes from Port Hedland — the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal — surged to a record high in May, according to data released by the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) on Wednesday.

Port Hedland handles ore produced by Fortescue Metals, BHP Billiton and Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill.

The PPA said that exports totalled 44.076 million tonnes for the month, surpassing the previous record high of 43.937 million tonnes set in December last year.

Compared to a year earlier, exports surged by 11.9%, leaving total iron ore shipments over the past year at a mammoth 493.3 million tonnes.

A truly ore-some amount.

Exports to China also hit a record high, swelling to 38 million tonnes in May. That was 9% higher than April and up a massive 20% from a year earlier.

The lift in Chinese demand goes someway to explaining a recent build in Chinese iron ore port inventories, surging to the highest levels on record earlier this month, according to data from Shanghai Steelhome.

It may have also contributed to a recent slide in iron ore prices, despite a pickup in demand.

The spot price for benchmark 62% iron ore fines has fallen from close to $95 in late February to below $60 today, according to Metal Bulletin.

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