An approaching category-three tropical cyclone, Rusty, is expected to affect the iron ore exports from the Pilbara region in Western Australia, with Port Headland now placed on red alert.
The cyclone is expected to worsen during the week, posing a threat to the surrounding mines from flooding.
Strong winds, recorded at speeds of up to 120km/h, have already damaged overhead power lines, cutting electricity to nearly 1,000 households and businesses in the region.
Port Hedland Port Authority, the largest bulk export terminal globally, told Bloomberg that the port is closed until further notice.
The Port is responsible for shipping millions of tonnes of iron ore every year, representing a fifth of all sea-borne iron ore.
Major mining companies including Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Atlas Iron have also temporarily closed operations and suspended all work at Port Hedland.
Rio Tinto was quoted by ABC News as saying that it has stopped ship loading at its Cape Lambert and Dampier iron ore shipping facilities but will continue with other operations such as rail and stockpiling.
The port authority further told Bloomberg in a statement that Rusty may cause rainfall of 400mm to 600mm this week.
The Bureau of Meteorology reported that in these two days, widespread and extremely heavy rainfall will likely lead to major flooding.
On Monday, Port Hedland’s airport was shut and all commercial flights are currently cancelled.
Image: Port Hedland port has temporarily closed as the tropical cyclone Rusty approaches the town. Photo: Bahnfrend.