Woodside halts gas production off Western Australia ahead of cyclone

Australian iron ore supply shouldn't be too disrupted by Cyclone Veronica, unless it floods the mines

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The category two cyclone Veronica is carrying destructive gusts of 155 kilometres per hour as it slowly tracks along the coast between Karratha and Port Hedland.

Mining giant BHP said in a statement Monday that Western Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services has lifted the Red Alert for Port Hedland.

Cyclone Veronica was downgraded to a category 3 system as it began lashing the coastline of the Pilbara region between Dampier and Port Hedland about 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 24.

"The winds have picked up a massive amount".

Major mining and energy companies took precautionary steps across the region, a hub of liquefied natural gas and iron-ore exports, with ports cleared of ships and non-essential staff evacuated, according to australianminining.com.au website.

Karratha Mayor Peter Long yesterday said the strong southerly winds reached 120km/h and caused vegetation damage and destroyed a shed.

There is also a preparation warning for those near the Fortescue River, with possible minor flooding expected today and tomorrow.

A risky storm tide was also predicted to hit the region this morning and damaging waves are predicted to bring inundation.

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They said people would need to stay in shelter longer than usual due to the destructive storm's slow pace.

Veronica is likely to weaken below cyclone intensity on Monday night.

The premier, commenting on reports people had ventured into the storm for selfies, warned against "stupid" behaviour.

Last week, Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Vivek Dhar said the disruption to seaborne iron ore supply was expected to be roughly 10 million mt if the ports were shut for five days.

On Saturday, Category 4 Cyclone Trevor hit a remote part of the Northern Territory coast, about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the east of the Pilbara region.

Once the immediate risks have passed, Woodside's focus will remain the ongoing welfare of our people, their families and our communities, and the safe return to full operations of our production facilities.

Still, two large storms such as Trevor and Veronica hitting on successive days is rare.

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