01/12/2012 --- Iron-ore port in Australia shut down for cyclone....
Australia's Port Hedland, one of the world's largest export terminals for iron ore, was shut down on Wednesday and miners scaled back operations as a precaution against an approaching cyclone.
Tropical Cyclone Heidi intensified to category two as it bore down on Western Australia's mineral-rich Pilbara region, where mining giants such as Rio Tinto and BHP operate.
"Destructive winds with gusts to 155 kilometres (96 miles) per hour are possible overnight close to the cyclone centre between Whim Creek and Pardoo, including Port Hedland," the weather bureau said, upgrading the storm's strength.
Heidi is expected to make landfall shortly before 2am local time (1800 GMT), bringing wild winds, flooding tides and up to 250 millimetres (10 inches) of rainfall to the mining-intensive region.
Port Hedland Port Authority spokesman Steed Farrell said they had activated their cyclone contingency plan in preparation for the wild weather.
"We cleared inbound traffic into the port and cleared the port of vessels that needed to get out," he said.
Rio Tinto and fellow iron ore producer Fortescue Metals said they have stopped loading ships but their mines were still operating as normal.
Meanwhile, Santos Ltd shut its Mutineer-Exeter oil field and Woodside Petroleum suspended output at several of its fields.
Residents were urged to seek shelter and prepare an emergency kit with first aid supplies, a portable radio, torch, batteries, food and water.
Cyclones are a regular feature in Australia with the country hammered by several last year, including Yasi that ploughed into northeastern Australia's Great Barrier Reef coast, wreaking Aus$1 billion (US$1 billion) in damage.