Iron ore exports hit record levels in the June quarter and in the year to June, according to figures from the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA).
That performance helped total iron ore exports for the year to June from the two major ports – Port Hedland and Dampier jump 3% or nearly 20 million tonnes to a record 717.3 million tonnes.
Of that 538.1 million tonnes was shipped through PortHedland, up nearly 25 million tonnes or 5%. BHP, Roy Hill, and Fortescue Metals are the main exporters through Port Hedland.
Exports from Dampier fell 3% to just over 167 million tonnes. Rio Tinto is the only exporter through Dampier, Rio also owns the Cape Lambert terminals to ship iron ore. That tonnage is not included in the PPA statistics.
The quarterly performance is for shipments from Port Hedland, the world’s biggest port.
Iron ore exports in June topped 50 million tonnes for the first time at 51.7 million tonnes. That was up 6% from June 2019 and May 2020.
China of course remained the main customer.
Exports to the country jumped 7% in June from June 2019 to a record 46.186 million tonnes. That was also 3 million tonnes above the figure for May.
Exports to China from Port Hedland in the June quarter totalled a record 128.1 million tonnes, up 13.5 million or 11.7% from the 114.5 million tonnes in the June quarter of 2019. It was also up more than 20 million tonnes or 18.6% from the March 2020 quarter figure of 107.661 million tonnes.
The record tonnage in June came as world iron ore prices spent most of the month at or above $US100 a tonne for the standard 62% Fe fines product. Fortescue still ships 58% Fe fines and Roy Hill ships mostly 55% Fe fines.
All iron ore prices were higher in June than in May, but prices were around 12% lower than June 2019, meaning earnings will not significantly change.