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FMG marks shipment milestone

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph
Fortescue Metals Group employees and guests celebrate the loading of its one billionth tonne of iron ore.
Camera IconFortescue Metals Group employees and guests celebrate the loading of its one billionth tonne of iron ore. Credit: North West Telegraph

Fortescue Metals Group cele-brated its own hat-trick in Port Hedland with 15 years since the company was founded, 10 years since its first shipped ore and its billionth tonne of ore loaded.

Staff applauded the loading of Fortescue’s ore carrier FMG Sophia alongside Minister for Finance, Energy and Aboriginal Affairs Reece Whitby, Kariyarra elder Alfred Barker, Mayor Camilo Blanco and guests at Herb Elliott Port last Friday.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said it was a decade since the company first sent ore to Shanghai Baosteel’s Majishan Port, and the billionth tonne was also headed to China.

“It’s a very significant achievement,” she said. “There are others in the Pilbara who took 25 years to get to the same point, so it’s a true demonstration of Fortescue’s vision and spirit to achieve one billion tonnes.

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“It does come down to volume. We have had an ambiguous strategy — we have invested a lot of money quite quickly and managed to achieve that run rate of 160 million tonnes a year. The infrastructure we’ve built here, we’ve got a very long-term commitment and investment to Port Hedland — we have our five berths and a new tug facility going in as well, nearly 400 people employed in Hedland.”

Since operations began, more than 5000 ships have left Fortescue’s Herb Elliot Port, supplied by more than 30,600 trains dumping in Port Hedland.

Kariyarra elder Alfred Barker, who was there to open the first loading facility, said seeing local people employed in the company was “magic”.

“It’s so amazing to be invited here again since being at the first loading ramp — to us as Kariyarra people, with the involvement in the workforce, it has been a wonderful thing,” he said. “This morning, when I walked through the work area, I saw all these young indigenous people working — it was so good for me just to see that.”

Since foundation FMG has paid more than three billion in corporate tax, paid State royalties totalling $4.5 billion and awarded $2 billion in contracts to Aboriginal businesses and joint ventures.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Energy and Aboriginal Affairs Reece Whitby said he was amazed by the progress FMG had made in such a short time.

“It’s great to see another key player for the region, the fourth biggest iron ore company in the world ... they’ll probably do their second billion within five years so we just hope they continue on their way with employment opportunities,” he said.

FMG founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said progress was a focus of character over doubt.

“A decade ago, when we shipped our first 180,000 tonnes of ore to China, I said it was a phenomenal achievement of sheer hard work, of guts and grind over scepticism, of character over doubt,” he said.

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