Rio Tinto calls force majeure on some iron ore shipments after fire in Australia

MELBOURNE – Rio Tinto said on Monday it has declared force majeure on iron ore shipments to some customers following a fire at its Cape Lambert export terminal in Australia last week.

The miner closed part of the terminal’s operations after the fire on last Thursday.

The fire has had no impact on the shipping of all other Pilbara iron ore products

“Rio Tinto is assessing the full impact of the damage and will do all it can to try and minimize disruption to our customers,” a Rio Tinto spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The fire caused damage to a part of the Robe River facility that separates lump and fine iron ore products.

Rio Tinto holds 53 percent in the Robe River Iron Associates joint venture, alongside partners Mitsui & Co and Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp.

Rio Tinto’s share of lump and fines production from the joint venture was 8.7 million tonnes in the first half of 2018.

“The fire has had no impact on the shipping of all other Pilbara iron ore products,” the company said.

Cape Lambert is one of two ports Rio uses to ship iron ore from Australia’s Pilbara mining region. The port has an annual iron ore shipping capacity of 205 million tonnes, according to the miner’s website.

Cape Lambert is about 1,250 km (780 miles) north of the Western Australia capital of Perth.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue)