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A tropical cyclone is headed for the coast of Western Australia's iron-ore-rich Pilbara region and could intensify when it hits land Wednesday, prompting the busy Port Hedland to shut operations and mining companies to halt loading ships as a precaution.
Among oil and gas companies operating offshore, Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) said it has shut its Mutineer-Exeter oil field before cyclone Heidi strikes.
The government's Bureau of Meteorology has classed Heidi as a category 1 system, but said it could intensify to category 2 just before it hits land. Gusts of up to 100 kilometers an hour are expected along coastal areas around Port Hedland, and could increase to 130 kilometers close to the center when it crosses the coast overnight, the bureau said.
A spokesman for the port authority at Port Hedland said ships had been sent out of the port and operations have been suspended.
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG.AU), which uses the port, said it has stopped loading, and has halted its rail operations in the region as well as construction at the port and rail sites, a spokeswoman said.
The weather bureau said tides are likely to rise, and rain fall of between 100 and 250 millimeters is possible across the central and eastern Pilbara.
-By Robb M. Stewart, Dow Jones Newswires; +61 3 9292 2094; [email protected]