06/04/2004 - 22:00

Larger home for FMG

06/04/2004 - 22:00


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THINGS appear to be moving in the right direction for mining promoter Andrew Forrest and his Fortescue Metals Group.

Larger home for FMG

THINGS appear to be moving in the right direction for mining promoter Andrew Forrest and his Fortescue Metals Group.

Staffing numbers at FMG have doubled from an initial 20 employees to 40 while more recently the company has relocated its head office into Perth’s spiritual home of mining companies – West Perth.

The executive management team was also bolstered in late January with several iron ore, engineering and mining experts. 

FMG is based around an ambitious two-fold mining and infrastructure plan, which would effectively break Rio Tinto’s and BHP Billiton’s iron-like grasp on Pilbara iron ore. It was formed out of Allied Mining Group’s iron ore assets last July and was, until January, housed on Stirling Highway, Nedlands.

The company has now settled in much larger premises on the corner of Kings Park Road and Walker Avenue.

FMG has rented half of the first floor of the five–storey building and emblazoned the building entrance with the bright blue words Fortescue Metals House.

The deal between FMG and the building’s commercial leasing agent, Jones Lang Lasalle, has given FMG the naming rights and it soon could take up more room in the building.

FMG Executive director operations and former Hamersley Iron rail and port operations general manager Graeme Rowley said the company had installed an open plan setting that allowed it to “move at a rate which [we] desire”.

“We have a highly motivated team and we are very excited by the progress we are making,” he said.

FMG’s staffing levels have increased most in the business’ exploration department with 10 geologists now on the books.

Mr Rowley said there were also plans to hire more geologists, which has so far been challenging due to an industry-wide shortage, particularly in the iron ore sector.

Environmental and Aboriginal Heritage work is also an increasing area of employment for the company.

Meanwhile FMG continues to move forward despite recent bad weather delaying exploration by seven weeks and pushing the conclusion of a pre-feasibility study back from the end of March to the end of May.

The company recently announced the acquisition of five new adjoining exploration license applications previously held by Rio Tinto Exploration and Hamersley Iron, which it will begin exploring immediately.

Its shareholders will also be asked next month to give FMG’s directors the authority to sell up to 60 per cent of its wholly owned subsidiary Pilbara Infrastructure Fund Pty Ltd to finance the Pilbara Iron Ore and Infrastructure Project.

FMG’s share price has slipped to just below the 60 cent mark in recent weeks after pushing back up to 70 cents in mid-March.

Paterson head of research Rob Brierley, who has a speculative buy on the stock, said both investor interest in FMG as well as the share price was reasonably high at the moment.

However, the company’s rapid progress suggests that project delivery is a good possibility.

Mr Brierley said the move into larger offices reflected the company’s uniquely tight time frame.


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