Rio Tinto to cut jobs in Western Australia

Rio Tinto will be cutting more jobs from its iron ore division in WA, with positions at its head office in Perth to be targeted first.

While an exact number has not been confirmed, it is believed that 500 jobs, or four per cent of the company’s WA workforce, will be cut, the ABC reports.

The cuts were attributed to the ‘challenging’ iron ore conditions.

“The market outlook remains challenging and we currently have 1,000 initiatives underway across our business to reduce costs, improve productivity and ensure we remain internationally competitive,” the company said.

Although the iron ore price hit $US80 a tonne last week – dropping to $US72 during the weekend – Rio said analysts predicted this to average between $US40-50 a tonne in 2017.

This follows another round of cuts this year, with 170 jobs lost at Rio’s Pilbara operations in March.

Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest said the decision in the lead up to Christmas was poor timing for employees, but believed there would be improvement in state’s economy.

“There’s a lot of supply still coming on from Brazil and I think Western Australia will do well in the iron ore industry, even though there will be some solid bumps in the road,” he told ABC Perth.

Earlier this month Rio’s announced it will halt operations at its Hope Downs Hope Downs 4 mine during Christmas as part of the company’s effort to cut down on operating costs.