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SYDNEY, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Australia's Port Hedland on Friday reported record monthly iron ore shipments of 39.3 million tonnes in September, an 8-percent rise from a year ago and slightly above the August level.
Most of the ore is shipped each month to steel mills and ports in China, though figures on individual destinations were not released by the Pilbara Ports Authority.
Iron ore has supplanted coal and gold as Australia's biggest source of foreign income, despite the price plunging as low as $44.10 a tonne in July - less than half what it was a year earlier. Iron ore has since rebounded to stand at $54.40 a tonne .IO62-CNI=SI.
Port Hedland, which handles about a fifth of the world's seaborne iron ore trade, is used by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group.
While global iron ore trade is forecast to increase by only 1.5 percent in 2015 to 1.4 billion tonnes, the lowest rate of growth since 2001, supply from Australia is projected to increase by 6 percent to 762 million tonnes, according to Australia's Department of Industry and Science.
BHP is lifting output by 6 percent to 247 million tonnes by next July, while Fortescue is running at an annual rate of around 165 million tonnes, making them the third and fourth largest producers worldwide after Vale and Rio Tinto . (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Joseph Radford)