BIG miner Rio Tinto has declared ‘force majeure’ on iron ore shipments to some customers after a fire at its Cape Lambert terminal in Western Australia late last week.

‘Force majeure’ is a declaration of unforeseeable circumstances preventing someone from fulfilling a contract.

According to Rio Tinto, the fire which broke out on 10 January caused damage to a section of the Robe River screen facility separating Robe Valley lump and fine products.

“As a result, Rio Tinto has declared force majeure on impacted customers,” a spokesperson said.

“Rio Tinto is assessing the full impact of the damage and will do all it can to try and minimise disruption to our customers.”

The fire is said to have had no impact on the shipping of all other Pilbara iron ore products.


Cape Lambert, about 1250km north of Perth, is one of two ports Rio Tinto uses to ship iron ore from the Pilbara.

According to Rio Tinto, the site has capacity for about 205m tonnes a year of iron ore.

It is owned as a joint venture between Rio Tinto (53%), Mitsui 33%, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (14%).