AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Independent review of Fortescue cyclone deaths

<p>Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest has promised to honour two workers who died in Cyclone George this week by completing the company’s multi-billion dollar iron ore project.</p> <p>Mr Forrest returned from the US yesterday (Monday, March 12) to face questions about the adequacy of cyclone preparations at Fortescue’s rail construction camp, 100 km south of Port Hedland.</p> <p>Mr Forrest said he was deeply shaken by the incident, which killed two Fortescue workers who were sheltering in demountable homes.</p> <p>&#8220It is I who started this project, it is I who started this company and it is I who take responsibility,&#8221 Mr Forrest said.</p> <p>Mr Forrest defended the decision not to evacuate workers from the camp.</p> <p>"I had every confidence that we could withstand the ferocity of cyclone George and I’m extremely upset that has not occurred," he told reporters in Perth. </p> <p>Fortescue has commissioned a panel of independent experts to review the safety procedures, which had allegedly not included locking down the temporary buildings.</p> <p>Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton said they always secured similar buildings &#8211 known within the industry as dongas &#8211 in preparation for cyclones.</p> <p>The incident, and any possible damage to Fortescue’s construction, could jeopardise the company’s $1.9bn rail and port project.</p> <p>Fortescue admitted that the cyclone could cause time and cost blowouts to the 45mtpa project.</p> <p>Iron ore shipments were to begin in the first quarter of 2008.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Rio Tinto was due to know this afternoon how long it could take to have its Cape Lambert and port of Dampier shipments back on schedule.</p> <p>BHP yesterday refused to speculate on the possible lost shipments at Port Hedland, estimated at 1.5m tonnes, caused by a five-day shutdown during the cyclone.</p> <br />