September 6, 2012 / 11:18 PM / 8 years ago

Australia's Port Hedland iron ore shipments to China rise in Aug

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Iron ore shipments to China from Australia’s Port Hedland, a bellwether for Chinese industrial activity, rose by 11.8 percent in August from the previous month, port authority data showed, even as prices for the steel-making ingredient tanked.

August shipments to China climbed to 16.72 million tonnes from 14.95 million tonnes in July, according to the data. That was 17 percent higher than the 14.3 million tonnes shipped in August last year.

Iron ore prices in August averaged the lowest since October 2009, which miners and commodities traders say was due to weakening demand for new shipments from Chinese steel mills.

The steel ingredient has been the hardest hit among industrial commodities by China’s slowdown, with its price dropping by more than a third this year.

Iron ore with 62 percent iron content, the industry benchmark, hit a near three-year low of $86.70 per tonne .IO62-CNI=SI this week, according to data provider Steel Index. The index is more than $100 off its February 2011 peak.

Australia is China’s single largest source for imported iron ore, followed by Brazil.

Total iron ore shipments from Port Hedland in August were 22.78 million tonnes, up almost 17 percent from 19.5 million in July.

BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) BLT.L is the port’s biggest user, followed by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG.AX).

Japan imported 2.38 million tonnes in August, versus 2.15 million tonnes in July. August shipments to South Korea were 2.71 million tonnes against 1.5 million tonnes in July.

Reporting by James Regan and Wayne Cole; Editing by John Mair

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