Ore imports and strategic stockpiling of raw materials like this may soon be history in China. Picture: AP.
Ore imports and strategic stockpiling of raw materials like this may soon be history in China. Picture: AP.

Iron ore exports from Port Hedland fell from an all-time high last month amid record stockpiles at ports in the world's biggest buyer of the steel-making raw material.

Shipments from the world's biggest bulk export port to China dipped to 29.2 million tonnes from the record 29.9mt in May, though they remained well up on the 22.9mt shipped in June last year, the Port Hedland Port Authority revealed yesterday.

Total shipments from Port Hedland were 33.6mt, down from May's 36.1mt, also a record.

Iron ore prices have fallen 29 per cent this year as Australian producers expanded supplies, betting that increased volumes from their low-cost mines will more than offset the impact of the declining prices.

Record stockpiles at ports in China have provided Chinese buyers with a quick source of supply, reaching as high as 105.72mt late last month.

"Overall demand from China is not that strong because port inventory is still very high," Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst with UOB Kay Hian, said.

Analysts say stockpiles assure consumers of supply should they choose not to negotiate in the seaborne market, turning so-called pricing power in favour of the buyer.

Miners in China are cutting production as cheaper overseas supplies increase, and a mainland mine shuts every day.

Bloomberg

The West Australian

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