Andrew Forrest says the ebbs and flows of headcount across Fortescue Metals Group is just business as usual and has firmly denied there are any "wanton" job cuts to come.
Addressing media and analysts at what proved to be an eventful half-year presentation this morning, the FMG chairman and newly-appointed Fortecsue Future Industries boss Mark Hutchinson were asked about mass layoffs that had been reported across the business.
It emerged last week that Fortescue was considering up to 1,000 job cuts, but a spokesperson said the board had not signed off on any significant changes to headcount. The figure was also not confirmed by the company today.
“We didn’t go from two people to 20,000 people in a straight line,” Mr Forrest said.
“This is a typical pattern Fortescue … grow, steady the ship, grow again.”
Mr Forrest also took it as an opportunity to take a swipe at “irresponsible reporting” by "one media outlet in particular" on the topic.
His comments come after Business News revealed Mr Forrest had told staff that a decision to choose German giant Liebherr over WesTrac for a major contract had led to negative coverage in media, highlighting The West Australian.
The West is a part of Seven West Media, which is 39 per cent owned by Seven Group Holdings, a business which also controls mining equipment company WesTrac.
“Are there wanton job cuts coming? Absolutely not,” Mr Forrest said.
“This is just business as usual.”
Fortescue posted a $US2.3 billion net profit after tax for the first half of the 2023 financial year, though revenues dipped 4 per cent to $US7.8 billion from $US8.1 billion against the backdrop of a weaker iron ore price.
Average revenue per dry metric tonne of iron ore was lower by 9 per cent at $US87.18.
Shipments increased from 93.1 million wet metric tonnes (wmt) this time last year to 96.9 wmt.
He could not be drawn on which exact projects were being referred to, but dovetailed into projects FFI is undertaking in Australia, the US and Norway.
"At the moment, I really want to get the horses to run and see who gets to the finishing line, but I can absolutely say we have certainty that we’ll see five by the end of the year."
It is expected that new chief executive Fiona Hick will present the company's next round of results.