Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Iron ore trade to China disrupted after Tianjin blast

SHIPMENT IMPACT:A deadly explosion at Tianjin port in China, the 10th-busiest container port in the world, could result in disruptions to iron ore delivery


Iron ore shipments to China have been disrupted after deadly explosions at Tianjin’s port prompted authorities to restrict vessels calling at the facility that funnels commodities into the north and ships out steel.

“There was no damage to the iron ore discharging berths following the explosion,” Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd said in a statement yesterday.

“However, shipments and port operations have been disrupted as a result and we are working with our customers to minimize any potential impact,” it said.

Mills in China are the world’s largest buyers of iron ore and the blasts, which rocked the city late on Wednesday night killing at least 44, will prompt shippers, traders and users to tap stockpiles and seek alternative routes.

The explosions occurred at a hazardous-goods warehouse, according to a statement from the port.

Iron ore prices dropped to the lowest level since at least 2009 last month as miners including BHP boosted output while demand growth stalled in China.

“It is unclear the extent of the disruption likely to be experienced to port activities,” Fortescue Metals Group Ltd said in a statement.

The company is Australia’s third-largest shipper.

“We will be monitoring the situation,” it said.

Material damage to the port could result in short-term disruptions to iron ore delivery, as well as lost or damaged stockpiles, Clarksons Platou Securities Inc said in a note.

“This is a developing story, which could have a potentially positive short-term impact on pricing,” it said.

The port is located about 160km southeast of Beijing in Tianjin municipality.

“Some deliveries will be disrupted,” Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration press officer Wang Xiaolei (王曉磊) said.

In addition to iron ore, shipments of oil were also disrupted at the port.

According to a post yesterday on the official microblog of TMSA, oil tankers and vessels carrying “hazardous products” were barred from calling at the port.

Tianjin is the 10th busiest container port globally and has become a northern gateway for shipments of ore, coal, automobiles and oil into China, the world’s biggest user of energy, metals and grains.

About 17 percent of the nation’s ethylene imports, 15 percent of its wheat deliveries and 30 percent of steel exports in the first half of 2015 were transported via the Tianjin customs area, government data show.

“The blast will have some direct impact to port operators and commodities importers and exporters in the near term,” said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities (Asia) Ltd in Hong Kong.

“It will have little impact to commodities prices and imports as other ports across China’s eastern coastline, especially those ports in nearby Shandong and Hebei provinces, could easily digest the capacity Tianjin may not be able to handle,” she said.

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