Gina Rinehart has shed a number of senior executives at her Roy Hill project in the Pilbara as it struggles to win backing from bankers to fund the $10 billion project.
WestBusiness understands at least 10 per cent of Roy Hill Holdings' company's 200-strong workforce was laid off over the last week, including some executive scalps.
Senior casualties are understood to include general manager of operations at Roy Hill, Viv Roberts, and Roy Hill Holdings communications manager Adrian Firth.
Both were relatively recent recruits to the company, with Mr Firth joining Roy Hill in May and Mr Roberts defecting from Fortescue Metals Group, where he was the general manager at the Christmas Creek project, at the beginning of the year.
Roy Hill Holdings chief executive Barry Fitzgerald is believed to have told workers early this month that internal job cuts at Roy Hill were not planned, but it is understood between 20 and 40 staff were shed last week.
Mrs Rinehart's flagship mine is still deep in negotiations with bankers over an estimated $7 billion debt package.
The recent crash in the iron ore price, which had seen other major Pilbara iron ore players pull back expansion plans and shed staff, was understood to have had a significant impact on negotiations.
Initially expected to be closed by the end of this year, a debt package is understood to have been delayed by at least six months, pushing back first production at the 55 million tonne per year mine until the middle of 2015. Earlier this month Roy Hill shed at least 200 contracting staff, and sources say more followed last week. Contractor Macmahon had also been told a rail contract would be delayed.
Sources say a number of workers who had accepted jobs at the company over recent weeks had also been advised their positions had been abolished.
But while Roy Hill is shedding existing staff, the company is still chasing new workers for when its major construction period begins.
_WestBusiness _understands Roy Hill was one of the featured companies at a Jobs and Skills expo in the Illawarra region in NSW yesterday, holding two recruitment and information sessions for east coast jobseekers.