Pilbara.

Calm before the storm: Port Hedland's export facilities. Photo: Reuters

Mining companies are beginning to assess the damage to their Port Hedland operations from cyclone Christine, which lashed the key mining port on Monday night.

Residents were told to take shelter and stay away from doors and windows during the cyclone, which brought winds of 170 km/h to the Pilbara coast, about 1600 kilometres north-east of Perth.

BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue use the port, but ship movements have been cancelled by the Port Hedland Port Authority until further notice, causing a spike in the spot iron ore price.

Fortescue planned to resume work on Tuesday afternoon but BHP and Rio Tinto's operations remained closed.

Residents reported only minor damage from the cyclone, which crossed the coast between Whim Creek and Roebourne about midnight on Monday.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said authorities had lifted the red alert and issued an ''all clear with caution'' for Port Hedland on Tuesday. ''Some of our personnel have returned to site to assess the damage and plan for the resumption of operations,'' she said. ''Our highest priority remains the safety of our people, and work will only recommence when it is safe to do so.''

She said as the cyclone moved inland BHP's mines in the Pilbara would ''continue to implement emergency response procedures''.

On Tuesday morning, the cyclone was 220 kilometres south of Karratha and 75 kilometres north-west of Paraburdoo, moving south at 20km/h.

Rio Tinto spokesman Bruce Tobin said the company's coastal and West Pilbara operations ''remain closed''. ''We are still fully assessing the impact at this stage,'' he said. ''We are also focusing on the safety and wellbeing of our employees, their families and our Pilbara communities.''

Fortescue spokeswoman Yvonne Ball said the company's port and rail operations ''have been given the all clear''. ''Everyone is safe and those on day shift will return to work this afternoon,'' she said. ''There have been no reports of damage to infrastructure.''

Earlier on Tuesday, a Port Hedland Port Authority spokeswoman said it was too early to provide an update on any damage to the port because a red alert was still in place.

''Until those alerts are lifted, we can't provide any updates - it's not safe to go out,'' she said.

Roebourne councillor Robin Vandenberg said many trees had fallen but there was no significant structural damage.

''The red alert has just gone off, so we are getting out now to look at the damage, but looking at the area around us from the front yard, it's all just superficial damage,'' he said.

Mr Vandenberg said on a scale of one to 10, he would rate the cyclone as a seven in severity.

With AAP