Twiggy’s rivals questioned
Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest has accused the iron ore miners Pilbara rivals of high-grading their WA deposits, putting the long term future of the State’s mining industry at risk.
Mr Forrest’s comments risk a restart of last year’s iron ore war of words, when Fortescue launched a series of attacks on BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto for oversupplying global commodity markets and driving down iron ore prices.
Mr Forrest told Fortescue shareholders the company’s move to beneficiate ore from its own mines, to drive up export grades and at the same time lower its mining costs, should be seen as a responsible move to preserve WA’s industry in the long term.
While he did not name BHP and Rio, he told Fortescue’s annual shareholder meeting that he believed the company’s Pilbara peers were not acting responsibly in their own operations.
“If you just mine the easy stuff, and send it straight to a ship which we see our peers doing, and they gloat about their high grade. I say ‘well, actually, what you are gloating about is that in your chief executive-ship, or in your chairmanship, you have to tick a box and you don’t actually care about the next guy or your children or your grandchildren,” he said.
Andrew Forrest. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian“Because you wouldn’t do that, you wouldn’t take the jam off the Pilbara toast of your children. You would take take every tonne of iron ore you could and you would put it through a plant which would eke it out and preserve those ore bodies for future generations.
“And that’s what we do at Fortescue, and I’m really proud of that.”
Fortescue today announced the next phase of its board regeneration with Owen Hegarty and Geoff Raby set to step down from the company’s board in coming months, in favour of former Leighton executive Penny Bingham-Hall and Deloitte partner Jennifer Morris.
Mr Forrest paid tribute to Mr Hegarty and Mr Raby at the annual shareholder meeting, saying both men had made a significant contribution to Fortescue’s development and growth.
He also welcomed Ms BinghamHall and Ms Morris to the board.
Mr Forrest said he was proud that Fortescue would become the first ASX-200 company to have a majority of women on its board after the changout was complete.
Picture: Nic Ellis Andrew Forrest