Fortescue aims high after posting record shipments

Image: Fortescue Metals Group.

Fortescue Metals Group plans to build off its 2020 financial year momentum by maintaining record production, delivering its growth projects and executing its climate change goals.

The mining giant has ambitious plans for the 2021 financial year, including raising its investment the Eliwana mine and rail project in Western Australia to $US1.325–1.375 billion ($1.83 to $1.90 billion).

This is revised from the previous investment forecast of $US1.27 billion as Fortescue accelerates the project to account for COVID-19 related delays. This is expected to help the company put first iron ore on train in December as scheduled.

Fortescue has also started tracklaying the first 143 kilometres of Eliwana’s railway during the June quarter and installed more than half of the structural steel at the ore processing facility.

At the Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia, Fortescue aims to produce first concentrate in the first half of 2022, having completed first earthworks on the ore processing facility and the mine access road during the June quarter.

Bulk earthworks at Iron Bridge are more than 50 per cent complete and the company began concrete works this month.

While progressing future projects, Fortescue has also upped the ante on existing operations, setting a 2021 financial year guidance goal to ship 175 million to 180 million tonnes, after shipping 178.2 million tonnes during 2020.

This exceeded the top end of the 177 million tonne guidance for 2020 and was a six per cent improvement on the 2019 financial year.

Fortescue has also revised its climate change targets as it aims to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040, including a 26 per cent reduction in emissions from 2020 levels at existing operations by 2030.

Company chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said its pathway to a greener future included increasing the use of renewable energy and a focus on using technology to decarbonise operations.

“(Achieving) net zero operational emissions by 2040 and a 26 per cent reduction in our scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 (positions) Fortescue to address the global climate change challenge with a sense of urgency,” Gaines said.

“Our pathway will include investments in energy infrastructure to increase our use of renewables, as well as a focus on technology and innovation to decarbonise through hydrogen and battery energy solutions.”

Gaines attributed the quarterly results to the strong performance of the Fortescue team while implementing a range of health and safety measures due to COVID-19.

“This was an outstanding performance which underpinned the operational excellence we delivered in the 2020 financial year,” she said.

“Our guidance for the 2021 financial year builds on the momentum of a record 2020 financial year as we optimise our integrated operations and marketing strategy.

“I am very proud of the team’s commitment and cooperation during this time which has sustained our contribution to the Western Australian and national economies through the reliable and secure supply of iron ore to our customers.”

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