Port Hedland Iron Ore Shipments to China Reach Record on Demand

Iron ore exports to China from Australia’s Port Hedland climbed to a record last month as signs of rising steel production in the world’s biggest buyer boosted demand and miners increased supply.

Shipments from the world’s largest ore-export terminal totaled 27 million metric tons in March compared with 21.3 million tons in February and 19.1 million tons a year earlier, data on the port authority’s website show. Total exports were also a record at 34.4 million tons last month, rising from 27.8 million tons in February and 24.9 million tons in March 2013, the data show.

China this week outlined a package of measures including railway spending and tax relief to support the economy after a slowdown endangered Premier Li Keqiang’s target of 7.5 percent growth this year. Daily crude steel production was 2.096 million tons in mid-March, up from 1.97 million tons in mid-February, according to Shanghai-based Xiben New Line on its website, citing data from the China Iron & Steel Association.

“You see a pick-up in March as the steel industry starts ramping up,” said Daniel Morgan, an analyst for UBS AG in Sydney. “It’s a healthy indication of supply side picking up and demand side picking up post winter.”

Australia is set to increase iron ore exports 19 percent to 687 million tons this year as miners including Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. boost output, according the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics. Inventories at Chinese ports reached a record 103.77 million tons in the week ended March 28, according to Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.

Iron ore with 62 percent content delivered to the Chinese port of Tianjin rose 0.2 percent to $115.50 a dry ton yesterday, according to The Steel Index Ltd. Prices have dropped 14 percent this year.

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