Australia’s iron ore core escapes Cyclone Rusty

Mining communities in Australia’s Pilbara, the country’s main iron ore region, were hit by winds of up to 120 km/h Wednesday morning as the category three Cyclone Rusty struck the state’s northwest.

Rusty had been forecasted to make landfall on the Pilbara region's Port Hedland iron ore port, but instead touched down in the nearby town of Pardoo, the country’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said.

Port Hedland had closed three main iron ore ports in the Pilbara region, the world's largest source of iron ore, as the cyclone approached. The storm has now been downgraded from a category four cyclone, one notch short of the top, to category three.

"It looks as if Hedland has dodged the bullet, so to speak, because the worst of the winds are away from Hedland," BoM’s Neil Bennett told AFP early today.

He added that Hedland has been experiencing a constant period of gale-force winds for over 36 hours now, which has never happened before in the area and they continue to expect "a very significant storm surge" in the Pardoo area.

Most of Australia's iron ore is mined in the Pilbara, a 502,000 km² mineral-rich area in Western Australia.

The iron ore industry employs about 9,000 people from the area.

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