Fortescue Metals Group has named a new CEO as it looks to upgrade its iron ore quality

Andrew Forrest. Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Fortescue (FMG) has announced that Elizabeth Gaines will replace Nev Power as CEO when he steps down on February 16 next year.

Gaines is currently Fortescue’s Chief Financial Officer. She will become the first woman to lead a mining company.

Fortescue Chairman Andrew Forrest made the ASX announcement today as part of broader changes within the pure play miner’s leadership team.

“Under the leadership of Mr Nev Power the company flourished and earned its reputation as one of the largest and most consistent seaborne iron ore suppliers, taking its place as the lowest cost most efficient producer in the world,” Forrest said.

“Fortescue is now rapidly evolving, drawing on the entire Fortescue family to continue and improve on that efficiency and establish itself for dynamic future growth.”

The announcement comes amid renewed challenges for the miner, as Chinese steel producers increasingly demand higher grade ores as less efficient blast furnaces are shut down.

Most of the iron ore mined by Fortescue is at grades lower than the benchmark 62% fines level, and the company has been forced to offer larger than usual discounts to maintain exports.

“A change in marketing focus directly related to flexible operations and new markets will lead to greater penetration in global iron ore markets,” Forrest said.

“Complementing this is our target that in the future a majority of Fortescue’s production will be >60% Fe competing head to head in the higher grade markets.”

Fortescue shares have fallen by more than 20% from their September highs, and the stock is down by around 1% in afternoon trade amid a broader selloff in the materials sector.


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