Fortescue Metals Group has hit the 10-year milestone since it first exported iron ore from the Pilbara in Western Australia.
The company celebrated exactly a decade since it shipped the first 180,000t of iron ore aboard the Cape size vessel Heng Shan from Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland yesterday.
It has now shipped more than 1 billion tonnes from the region, while also becoming the lowest cost supplier of seaborne iron ore into China.
Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew Forrest paid tribute to the entire Fortescue family, including suppliers, customers, pastoralists, native title partners and local communities involved since the company’s inception in 2003.
“From the first discovery hole drilled at Cloudbreak to now sustaining consistent production at 170Mt per year, Fortescue is truly an Australian success story,” he said.
“Ten years ago, I said Australia now had a new flagship company and today Fortescue continues to proudly wave that flag.”
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who spoke at a celebratory event at the Cloudbreak mine, said Fortescue changed the face of the Pilbara and the Australian mining industry.
“Fortescue has contributed to the economic strength of our nation, providing employment and training opportunities for thousands of people including Indigenous workers, significant contracts that benefit local communities as well as playing a key role in the Australia-China relationship,” Bishop said.
Forrest also acknowledged Fortescue’s long-term relationship with its Chinese customers, which had played a critical role in the company’s growth.
“We are proud of our contribution to China’s remarkable economic development and our role in supporting the important trade relationship between China and Australia which has been vital to driving economic growth in both nations,” Forrest said.
“There is an exciting future ahead. We look forward to continuing to invest in the long-term sustainability of our core iron ore business in the Pilbara and ensuring that local communities continue to benefit from our growth and development.”