A decision yesterday by Mitsubishi Development to cut 71 jobs from Oakajee Port and Rail and Crosslands Resources is not the death of Oakajee, according to OPR boss John Langoulant.
Mr Langoulant denied the move was the end of the project, citing the current economic climate and a failure to find a funding partner as reasons for the shake-up.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to let a few people go, but it’s a prudent decision that Mitsubishi are taking,” Mr Langoulant said.
“It’s a time to reduce the cost on this project — we’re certainly not putting the project on ice.
“We’ll be winding back the work we’ve done on the Oakajee Port and Rail project, primarily because the engineering work and the approvals which are required to build the port and the rail are virtually done.”
Mr Langoulant will now become the chief executive of OPR and Crosslands, with former chief executive Andy Caruso stepping aside yesterday.
A combined staff of 44 will remain at both companies.
Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance chief executive Rob Jefferies said the move was similar to reductions at Mount Gibson Iron and Sinosteel Midwest, showing a contraction had hit the region.
“I think it’s reflective of what’s happened right across the industry,” he said.
“We’re not alarmed about it and we’re not surprised by the move in the current environment.
“It seems a logical and not totally unexpected move to do the same sort of restructuring that has occurred with a number of the miners, to adjust to the conditions.”
Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bill Headley was not concerned by the decision.
“I don’t believe it will have any affect. Oakajee is a long-term project. It’s needed by the mining companies in the long term and, in my view, will happen in the long term,” he said.
“What Mitsubishi have done at the moment, or what they’re in the process of doing is curtailing some of their spend, which is a prudent management decision in the current market.”