Australia: Major Fire At BHP Pilbara Mine
One of BHP Billiton’s (AU:BHP) major iron ore operations was hit by a major fire on Thursday, shutting down production at a time of falling prices.
A fire broke out in the screening facility of the Mt Whaleback mine in the Pilbara town of Newman.
The 50-year-old mine produced 43 million tonnes of iron ore in 2016.
A BHP spokesperson said all workers had been accounted for during the fire, which took firefighters hours to put out.
Prices have continued lower after the fire, with 62% Fe iron ore falling to US$55.20 per tonne later that day.
The part-suspension at Mt Whaleback has come at the end of a major production month for exports at Port Hedland, according to Reuters, which said ideal conditions for mining and shipping had BHP knocking on the record of 37.4 million tonnes of iron ore.
A Shanghai trader told the wire service the effect on prices from the mine shutdown would be slow, if it came at all.
“The market is still well supplied so the impact may not be seen very soon,” a Shanghai-based iron ore trader said.