Tropical Cyclone Rusty Threatens Australian Iron Ore Exports

Tropical cyclone Rusty is expected this week to slam into the northwestern coast of Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of iron ore, threatening to flood mines and cut exports.

Rusty was upgraded to a Category 2 cyclone overnight and is 305 kilometers (190 miles) north of Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export terminal, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website at 11:45 a.m. western standard time.

The Pilbara, where most of Australia’s iron ore is mined, is home to BHP Billiton Ltd., Rio Tinto Group and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.’s mines, ports and rail lines. Port Hedland, which ships ore from BHP and Fortescue’s mines, has closed, the port authority said today in an e-mailed statement. Rio’s Dampier and Cape Lambert iron ore shipping facilities are also closing, the London-based company said.

Apache Corp., a U.S.-based oil and gas producer, has shut its Stag oil field as the cyclone nears, the company said today.

Further intensification is likely as Rusty approaches the coast today and tomorrow and “there is a high risk that it will cross the coast as a severe tropical cyclone,” the bureau 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.”

Rusty may bring rainfall of 400 millimeters (16 inches) to 600 millimeters this week, the port authority said in the statement.

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