Cyclone closes Pilbara ports

Major iron ore ports in the Pilbara have been closed as tropical cyclone Rusty bears down on Western Australia's north-west coast.

Reuters reports Port Hedland, Cape Lambert, and Dampier ports have been closed in preparation for the storm, which is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains.

Almost half of the world's seaborne iron ore is shipped through the Pilbara, and major operations by BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue Metals Group, along with a host of other companies, have been disrupted.

The Bureau of Meterology said Rusy was moving slowly toward Port Hedland, and was expected to intensify as it moved closer to the coast.

“Rusty is a large tropical cyclone and its slow movement is likely to result in higher than usual rainfall in the Pilbara and western Kimberley,” it said.

“Very heavy rainfall is expected in near coastal parts of the eastern Pilbara and western Kimberley on Monday.”

“During Tuesday and Wednesday widespread very heavy rainfall is likely to lead to major flooding in the De Grey catchment. Significant flooding in the Fortescue is also likely.”

The storm has currently been rated category two, but could intensify to category three or four as it moves closer.

Watoday reports a group of 'storm chasers' are already planning on flying to the Pilbara to wtiness the cyclone, and a chaser based in the United States is also considering flying to WA for the event.

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