5 Sep 2012

Mining company delays expansion plans

1:29 pm on 5 September 2012

Citing a recent slump in iron ore prices, Fortescue Metals in Australia is delaying $US1.6 billion expansion plans and is cutting several hundred jobs in the process. Fortescue is the third biggest iron ore producer in Australia.

The ABC reports the company has cut a near-term expansion target from 155 million tonnes of iron ore per year to 115 million tonnes.

The company will continue its plans to expand the Christmas Creek mine and the Firetail deposit at its Solomon mine, but will defer development of the Kings deposit at Solomon.

It will also delay the completion of a fourth berth at Herb Elliott Port until iron ore prices rise to higher levels.

The move will lower Fortescue's planned spending from $US6.2 billion to $US4.6 billion for the current financial year.

Chief executive Nev Power said on Tuesday that staff numbers and other operating costs will be cut immediately.

The ABC reports iron ore spot prices have more than halved over the past year and fell by almost a quarter last month.

Late last week, iron ore spot prices in China fell $US88.70 per tonne - the lowest for almost three years.

BHP delay also

On 22 August, BHP Billiton put plans for expansion at Olympic Dam in South Australia on hold. It also announced a fall of 34.8% in profits.

Chief executive Marius Kloppers said the delay was due to rising costs and weaker commodity prices and nothing to do with the new federal mining tax, which does not apply to the copper, uranium or gold extracted from the site.

BHP says it will investigate a new and cheaper design for the Olympic Dam open-pit expansion, but it would not be ready to approve the project in time to meet a state government deadline of 15 December.