Fortescue warns closing Western Australia borders could worsen labor shortages

A giant excavator loads a mining truck at the Fortescue Solomon iron ore mine located in the Sheila Valley, about 400 km south of Port Hedland, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia December 2, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray/File photo

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Jan 21 (Reuters) – The chief executive of Australian Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG.AX) warned on Friday that a delay by the state of Western Australia in reopening its borders could worsen labor shortages. currently affecting the mining sector.

The country’s largest state, home to the resource-rich Pilbara region, canceled plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5 due to health risks from the Omicron variant coronavirus and has not set new date to relax these restrictions. Read more

“With high vaccination rates evident across Western Australia, we feel it is important that we have a defined plan to emerge from the pandemic,” said Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines.

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All states and territories in the country, except Western Australia, have reopened their internal borders as part of a policy of living with COVID-19.

Western Australia State Premier Mark McGowan made an announcement on Thursday evening saying it would be ‘reckless and irresponsible’ to open up given the rapid spread of Omicron, adding that the plan initial reopening was based on the less transmissible Delta strain. Read more

The miner continued to see shortages in “key skill areas” that hurt various industries, including the resource sector, Gaines said.

“The lack of clarity on the reopening of WA’s borders may lead to an exacerbated shortage of labor and skills.”

Fortescue, the fourth largest iron ore miner in the world, owns several mines in the state and is also developing the Iron Bridge lodestone project there.

Big rivals Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) and BHP (BHP.AX) reported this week that labor shortages had hit their quarterly output and forced them to revise down their annual forecast. Read more

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Reporting by Riya Sharma and Shashwat Awasthi; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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