Big miners set for bonanza

Expectations the Pilbara's big iron ore miners are set to deliver bumper results when their first-half results are delivered next month are rising. The latest shipping figures from Port Hedland show exports rose at a time of high iron ore prices, despite the late December disruption caused by cyclone Christine.

December's export figures from the Port Hedland Port Authority show 29.4 million tonnes of iron ore was shipped during December, up 5 per cent on November's figures, despite the cyclone.

While the iron ore price softened slightly in December, with the spot price for 62 per cent ore averaging $US135.98 a tonne compared with November's $US136.32/t, the weaker Australian dollar added substantially to the margins of all local producers. In Australian dollar terms, the benchmark spot price averaged $151.30/t in December compared with $146.41/t in November, according to Bloomberg.

More records are likely as BHP Billiton and Fortescue continue to ramp-up production, but total throughput for the half, including non-iron ore commodities, was up 27 per cent compared with the same period in 2012, to 173.5 million tonnes. That's likely to deliver some big numbers for the port's users, BHP and Fortescue and smaller producers Atlas Iron and Mineral Resources.

The West Australian

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