Fortescue Metals Group workers at its Pilbara operations may be told today who will keep their job at the Cloudbreak operation, with the company expected to hold an all-staff meeting in the afternoon to announce the latest wave of layoffs.
_WestBusiness _ understands Fortescue has taken the unusual step of temporarily stopping work at Cloudbreak, the miner's most expensive operation, to allow managers to address the workforce as a group. Fortescue yesterday would not confirm the meeting.
But it dismissed market talk that "Fortescue is closing Cloudbreak (as) absolutely incorrect", and reiterated that it would merely slow the rate of overburden removal and move to the use of existing ore stockpiles until iron ore prices recovered.
Earlier in the week Fortescue chief financial officer Steve Pearce said that cash costs at Cloudbreak were estimated at $50 a tonne.
Sources say the mine is unprofitable if spot prices fall to $US80/t. Prices in China were $US86.70/t yesterday.
This week's Fortescue jobs cull also extended deep into management ranks. As revealed by _WestBusiness _ yesterday, long-term executives recruited by founder and chairman Andrew Forrest found they were not immune, with joint company secretary and investor relations head Rod Campbell and government relations executive Julian Tapp among the departing.
In addition, Fortescue slashed the ranks of its senior legal team, making group legal manager Andrew Barclay and senior legal counsel Ann Marie Lowry redundant. Both had been with the company more than five years.
More recent senior executive appointments, including director of external affairs Deidre Willmott and chief information officer Vito Forte, have survived the cull.
Mr Forte's department at the Fortescue head office was one of the worst hit, sources say, with more than a third of the IT division axed.
One former Fortescue employee said even the human resources department appeared to have been caught short by the sudden and savage cuts, with some staff not being given a formal letter terminating their employment before being escorted from the building.
Another worker told of being pulled out of a meeting to be told by his line managers he was being made redundant. As his superiors read from a prepared script, his company mobile was cut off, access to his computer and login revoked and he was then given only a short period to collect his belongings before being escorted to the lifts. AT RISK 1000 The number of jobs of staff and contractors possibly on the line at Fortescue