Southern Ports Authority addresses staff over Cliffs' closure

Cliffs Asia Pacific Iron Ore have confirmed they will cease mining operations at Koolyanobbing in the coming months, with shipping and rail out of Esperance expected to cease as early as June 2018.

Southern Ports Authority received the announcement from Cliffs on Monday, March 19, with staff receiving confirmation a short time later.

Southern Ports chief executive officer Nicholas Fertin acknowledged the impact the action would have on the wider Goldfields-Esperance community.

In an address to staff, Mr Fertin said the company understood that it would be an unsettling time for many Southern Ports employees and their families and the Ports’ priority was to support their staff.

“As soon as we can, we will communicate directly with you to advise how this change will impact you, and the broader workforce,” he said.

“At this time, I would ask everyone to take care of each other.”

Currently, the mining giant own the Koolyanobbing complex and serve much of the Asian iron ore markets, with export having been processed through the Esperance port for the last 24 years.

Last financial year, iron ore from the complex represented more than 75 per cent of the export volume through the Esperance port.

The announcement was first made on January 25 during a quarterly earnings call, after Cleveland-Cliffs’ chief executive officer Lourenco Goncalves indicated the increasing preference for ‘higher grade’ ores had impacted the non-core ‘low-grade’ operation in Australia, with mining operations ‘likely to cease’ as a result.

Mr Goncalves said he appreciated the hard work and ‘sacrifices’ of the Australian operations and would ensure the market remained informed on the status of their operations throughout the year.