New figures show iron ore exports to China from Western Australia's Port Hedland surged 25 per cent in December from the month before.
The Port Hedland Port Authority says China imported 20.2 million tonnes in the month compared with 16.2 million in November.
The increase comes after a long period of de-stocking by Chinese steel mills during the middle of 2012.
During that de-stocking period, iron ore prices slipped to around $US87 a tonne, but have since recovered, and overnight hit a 15-month high of almost $US150 a tonne.
BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group are the biggest users of the Port Headland facility, while Rio Tinto uses nearby ports.