Cyclone Joyce, a Category 1 storm, is holding just off the beaches of Pilbara iron ore belt, already prompting the closure of the world's biggest iron ore export terminal at Port Hedland, 1,700 km (1,050 miles) north of Perth, as a safety precaution.
The region is home to numerous world's largest iron ore mines, with Port Hedland last month accounting for over 41 million tonnes of exports, nearly all bound for Chinese steel mills.
The Weather Bureau said the system could be packing winds of more than 180km/h when it is expected to cross the coast between Broome and Port Hedland tonight.
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The authority said Port Hedland may start clearing vessels on Thursday morning if the tropical low builds overnight into a cyclone off the Western Australia coastline.
The storm is the second to menace Australia's northwest in as many weeks, since Cyclone Hilda blew down trees and caused minor damage at Broome last week.
Iron ore shipments from Port Hedland to China in December were 39.1million tonnes, a 5% year-on-year rise, with the total for the year amounting to 419.5million tonnes.
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Iron ore for spot delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB rose 77 cents, or about 1 percent, to $79.08 a tonne on Thursday.
Iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange were down 2 percent in trading at the Shanghai Futures Exchange, after falling 0.4 percent in the previous session.
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