Biggest ever shipment of iron ore leaves Port Hedland

The largest single shipment of iron ore has left the port of Port Hedland with 263,989 tonnes onboard the vessel Abigail N.

The BHP loaded iron ore carrier also departed the port (Tuesday 24 February 2015) on a record sailing draft of 19.67 metres.

This single shipment broke the previous record achieved by Hugo N in December 2013 by 27 tonnes.

The extra tonnages of iron ore the major miners are exporting was highlighted in official figures released by the Pilbara Port Authority earlier this month.

In January, iron ore exports for the month totalled 36.7Mt, an increase of 8.5Mt or 30 per cent from the same month in 2014.

The results come as no surprise, with major miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group all adding extra tonnages and reporting record shipping rates.

It is this ramp up that is being blamed for the fall in price of iron ore, with more supply on the market than it can absorb.

But the surge of new supply is not set to end any time soon.

Fortescue Metals Group shipped 41.1 million tonnes of iron ore in the December quarter, a 47 per cent increase on the prior comparable period.

BHP revealed it produced 113 million tonnes of iron ore in the half year, with its Western Australia Iron Ore production increasing by 15 per cent.

The miner revealed WAIO also achieved record sales volumes of 126 Mt due to the company’s strategy of increasing the percentage of direct to ship ore which has unlocked further port capacity.

Meanwhile, Rio set a new annual record in 2014, producing 295.4 million tonnes of iron ore. The company shipped 302.6 million tonnes of ore, a 17 per cent increase on sales from the previous year.

This week, BHP chief Andrew Mackenzie said calls to reduce iron ore production in the light of falling prices would only work to harm the Australian economy.

Mackenzie blasted recent suggestions that the company had employed a flawed strategy in its ramp up of iron ore production stating supply from a reliable miner created strong economic growth.

“I strongly believe that the world will be best served by a sustainable supply of commodities at a fair price, and that capital ­resources should be directed ­towards the most efficient sources of that production in a manner that the world gets them as cheaply as possible, in terms of cost, and with the greatest environmental performance and the smallest environmental footprint,” Mackenzie said.

“The only certain effect of ­stalling production will be to ­reduce Australian exports.”


To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.