Roy Hill’s first shipment coloured by attacks on media

The Roy Hill mine has reached the milestone of its first shipment of iron ore, which was loaded aboard the MV Anangel Explorer last Tuesday.

A statement from Hancock Prospecting on Wednesday said the shipment was achieved “a month ahead of the owners’ expectation”, however by recent company expectations the shipment was loaded more than two months late.

The original September 30 deadline for shipment of first ore was missed, and in late November a spokesperson for Roy Hill said the company had missed their 31 October deadline for its first iron ore shipment and did not know when that milestone would be met.

Owner Gina Rinehart used her first official statement in relation to the milestone achievement to criticise the media for their scrutiny of project delays, even before thanking those involved with the project.

“Despite the many media critics and their relentless negativity, we have now loaded a ship of Roy Hill low phosphorous ore, the next step in the exciting story of the Roy Hill Project,” she said.

Rinehart then acknowledged the “hard work and persistence the small team at Hancock Prospecting and the Roy Hill team”, but quickly launched into a tirade against the media’s reporting of Roy Hill’s affairs.

“Where are the media reports about the many companies who were pleased to get work from Roy Hill?”

“Surely this is of far more importance to Australia than the media’s glee about so called time slippages. Yet which topic has had intense media repetition?

“As I've said publicly before, congratulations are overdue for the remarkable performance of all the men and women who worked so hard on this mega project to achieve it."

SMH reported that Rinehart had “suffered an embarrassing delay” which forced cancellation of a media event planned for last Friday.

Roy Hill appeared in court in November with complaints against principal contractor Samsung C&T for causing delays to the first shipment, which resulted in a ruling for the case to be arbitrated in Singapore despite pleas by Roy Hill counsel that the matter should have been dealt with in Australia as a matter of urgency.

Hancock Prospecting executive director Tad Watroba continued yesterday’s official statement with a bitter retaliatory attack on the media, calling into question the accuracy of reporting by the media as a whole, however it appeared that he was confused about previous media speculation that Roy Hill's production phase could have an impact on iron ore prices in the future.

“It is unfortunate that constant attacks blaming Roy Hill for the iron ore price falls over the last two years even though Roy Hill was not even exporting undermine any remaining faith in the accuracy of the media,” he said.

“As we have constantly said, this ill-informed, headline-seeking media barrage, ignores the fact that Roy Hill is selling iron ore to partners with deals done years ago, and ignores that Roy Hill won't ramp up to large capacity tonnage even next year, while incredibly ignoring the growth of ore exports from Brazil and other Australian suppliers.”

Watroba pointed out that 90 per cent of Roy Hill production had been secured under long-term contracts, and that little would enter the iron ore spot market, currently below $US40 per tonne.

Roy Hill CEO Barry Fitzgerald chose a more positive tack, drawing attention to the project’s Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate, saying the rate was ten times better than the state industry average with the last third of the 33 million hours worked classified as LTI free.

Over the course of the project construction period Roy Hill’s contractor Samsung C&T attracted unwanted media attention for a string of crane incidents and other safety issues which resulted in the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) issuing 15 improvement notices and 12 prohibition notices to the project.

Between July 2014 and September 2015 the project gave cause for 11 site visits involving 24 DMP inspectors.

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