Anglo-Australian mining major BHP Billiton has laid-off 170 workers at its Mount Whaleback iron ore mine in Pilbara, north of Western Australia.
The redundancies follow 100 cuts in BHP’s iron ore division at its Perth headquarters last week, as part of the firm’s strategy to reduce costs due to iron ore prices reaching a two-year low.
A BHP spokeswoman was quoted by The Australian as saying that the job cuts at the Mount Whaleback were part of the company’s efforts to deliver value to shareholders by increasing volumes while reducing costs.
The spokeswoman added: "BHP Billiton iron ore regularly undertakes reviews to ensure that our business is operating as efficiently as possible."
"This includes reviewing the size and structure of our workforce to ensure it supports the delivery of our productivity agenda."
"In situations where employees are impacted we will undertake every effort to assist them throughout the process and to seek redeployment opportunities where possible."
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Earlier this year, BHP Billiton indirectly confirmed plans to de-merge some of its mining assets, including aluminium, manganese and nickel, to focus on its core businesses.
The company previously said: "We believe that a portfolio focused on our major iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum assets would retain the benefits of diversification, generate stronger growth in free cash flow and a superior return on investment."
"By increasing our focus on these four pillars, with potash as a potential fifth, we will be able to more quickly improve the productivity and performance of our largest business."
Image: Mount Whaleback iron mine in Pilbara. Photo: courtesy of Graeme Churchard.