Forrest’s Fortescue sheds ‘low hundreds’ from workforce

Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group has begun retrenching more than 100 workers as an expansion project in the Pilbara nears completion and its focus for green energy investments switches to the United States where generous subsidies are available.

The first employees were told they were no longer wanted on Thursday and the process is continuing. Workers were not given the opportunity to volunteer for redundancy and the atmosphere at Fortescue – which has about 15,000 employees – has been described as “bleak”.

Andrew Forrest said earlier this week that for Australia to ignore the US Inflation Reduction Act “would be at our peril”.Credit:Michael Quelch

A Fortescue spokesman describes the job losses as “business as usual for rapidly evolving global companies”.

“We are always looking for opportunities for continuous business improvement to maintain our industry-leading cost position,” he said.

Fortescue made a profit of $3.4 billion in the second half of 2022, a 15 per cent drop as increased production failed to compensate for a falling iron ore price.

The job losses, understood to be in the low hundreds, are substantially fewer than the number reported by some media outlets in recent months.

The spokesman said Fortescue Future Industries – which wants to develop multibillion-dollar green hydrogen projects – was quickly allocating more resources to the US, attracted by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act that introduced substantial tax incentives for a variety of low-carbon emissions projects.

In Fortescue’s core mining business, the Iron Bridge magnetite project is nearly complete, requiring fewer employees to oversee the work.

The spokesman said at the same time more people had been allocated to work on a potential new iron ore mine in the west African nation of Gabon.

“As this occurs project staffing naturally ebbs and flows,” he said.

More to come.

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