By Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's largest iron ore export terminal Port Hedland is likely to escape the worst of a tropical cyclone that is forming off the country's northwest coast, the weather bureau said on Wednesday.
A tropical low is expected to form a cyclone over the next few hours and is on track to strike the coast on Thursday, just to the west of Port Hedland, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.
The cyclone is likely to bring winds of 100 kilometers an hour and heavy rains, and the bureau cautioned that its trajectory may change.
Tropical cyclones are frequent at this time of year and can disrupt loading operations at the port.
Iron ore slipped to $58 a tonne this week, the lowest since free-floating prices replaced an annual fixing system in 2009.
Australia is also bracing for a second cyclone off the east coast.
Cyclone Nathan, which is carrying winds in excess of 130 kilometers an hour, is expected to make land on Queensland's far north coast on Thursday, the bureau said.
If Nathan makes landfall, it will be the second east coast storm in recent weeks after Cyclone Marcia flooded homes and businesses and knocked out power lines on Feb. 20.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Richard Pullin)