BHP Billiton not expecting iron-ore shipments to be directly affected by Tianjin explosions

BHP Billiton Ltd said it was not expecting iron-ore shipments to be directly affected by explosions in the city of Tianjin that led to disrupted operations at one of the world's busiest ports and a major iron-ore import hub for Chinese buyers.

Massive explosions destroyed warehouses in Tianjin, north-eastern China leaving 50 people , including firemen, dead and over 700 injured shortly before midnight on Wednesday. (See: Massive explosions kill 50, injure 700 in Tianjin,  China).

"We understand the iron-ore berths are operating as normal and that port operations, including customs clearance, also resumed today," BHP, the world's largest mining company, said in an emailed statement. "We don't anticipate any direct impact on our shipments through the port," it said.

Chinese iron ore futures did not change much today, with the contract heading for a third weekly gain as restocking by steel mills increased in the world's top consumer.

Chinese steel mills had boosted purchases of the steel making-ingredient after running down inventories as they picked up output ahead of planned production curbs in late August.

"Spot prices are firm as mills are restocking, while the supply glut does not seem as serious as the market expected earlier after many small high-cost iron ore miners shut down," said Xia Junyan, an analyst with Everbright Futures in Shanghai.

The most-traded January iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was steady at 385.0 yuan ($60.08) a tonne by 0240 GMT, which was not far from 388.5 yuan a tonne hit on yesterday, the highest since 6 July.

Spot iron ore prices too were up in a temporary lift from disruptions at Tianjin port after two massive explosions.

According to BHP Billiton its iron ore operations at the port had been affected. 

Steel mills in regions around the capital Beijing would be cutting output for a celebration of the end of World War Two between late August and early September.