BHP Billiton employees are bracing for further job losses in its iron ore division as the State's second largest iron ore miner considers consultants' recommendations, including cuts of up to 20 per cent of its 16,000-strong WA workforce.
More than 500 jobs have already been chopped from BHP's iron ore division in recent months, including 100 from the resources giant's iron ore headquarters in Perth as well as 170 positions made redundant at its Mt Whaleback mine in the Pilbara.
Strong workforce rumours at BHP's Port Hedland port operations also suggest another 100 jobs could go within weeks from its Nelson Point stockyards, ship-loading and docks operations.
It is understood the recent job losses came after internal reviews conducted by managers inside BHP's iron ore operations.
Sources say significantly greater cuts are expected as a result of a broader review conducted by management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, which has been examining BHP's iron ore business in detail.
McKinsey reports are understood to have recommended BHP shed up to 20 per cent of its WA workforce, or more than 3000 positions, in an effort to reduce costs to the level of major rival Rio Tinto on a per-tonne basis.
The McKinsey target is believed to include many of the job cuts already made by BHP managers, with a new round of restructuring and redundancies believed likely to begin as early as next month.
It is understood BHP is also seeking to shave substantial costs from its contracting workforce, with individual consultants and contractors asked to accept wage cuts of up to 15 per cent when contracts are rolled over.
BHP would not comment yesterday on specific cost-cutting measures, including the rumoured redundancies at Port Hedland.
A spokeswoman said the company's focus on productivity was part of an ongoing process.
"BHP Billiton Iron Ore regularly undertakes improvement initiatives and organisational reviews as part of an ongoing focus on productivity, and we have engaged external consultants to assist with this process," she said.
"We have been open with our employees about the work being done to improve productivity, and the review, and we hold regular employee town hall meetings and question and answer sessions with the business leaders as a matter of course."