Port Hedland Ships Record Iron Ore in May as China Boosts Demand

Iron ore shipments from Australia’s Port Hedland, the world’s biggest bulk terminal, climbed to a record last month as China’s purchases rose to an all-time high.

Exports totaled 27.9 million metric tons compared with 26 million tons in April, data on the Port Hedland Port Authority’s website showed. Shipments to China climbed to 23.3 million tons in May from 19.3 million tons a month earlier.

Iron ore dropped into a bear market last month, retreating from a 16-month high in February, on concern that slowing growth in China would curb demand in the largest buyer. The decline offered an excellent buying opportunity as Chinese mills will need to restock, Morgan Stanley said on May 30. The price rallied 4.2 percent yesterday, the biggest gain since October.

“Low iron ore prices could support import volumes,” Clarkson Capital Markets wrote in a June 3 note. “With the weaker market sentiment in the Chinese steel industry, the spot price for imported iron ore could drop to a level that would stimulate inventory re-stocking.”

Iron ore with 62 percent content delivered to the Chinese port of Tianjin gained to $116.60 a dry ton yesterday, according to The Steel Index Ltd. Prices dropped 18 percent in May, touching $110.40 on May 31, the lowest level since October.

Inventories at Chinese ports rose a fifth week on May 31 to 70.72 million tons, the highest level since January, according to Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. Holdings had dropped to 66.26 million tons on March 8, the lowest since 2009.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest mining company, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG) are among companies that ship ore through the port, which is about 1,660 kilometers (1,031 miles) northeast by road from Perth, capital of West Australia. Australia is the world’s largest iron ore shipper.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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