Iron ore exports from Port Hedland have been disrupted, with the port closed last night as tropical cyclone Joyce headed for the Pilbara coast.

All vessels were cleared from the port yesterday and the Pilbara Ports Authority confirmed the harbour would be closed from 6.30pm last night.

The storm was 90km north-west of Broome late yesterday and was expected to intensify today as it travelled in a south-westerly direction over warm water.

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. A BHP spokesperson said most of the company’s port equipment would be tied down last night. Other Pilbara ports were monitoring the cyclone.

The storm comes after Pilbara ports shipped a record 80 million tonnes of iron ore last month and as industry sources claimed yesterday that ore stockpiles at northern Chinese ports had reached 100 per cent of stated capacity.

Image: Tropical Cyclone Joyce - Cyclone Joyce hammers down on Broome. Broome Advertiser, The West Australian