Leadership shake-up at Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine
Article by Brad Thompson courtesy of the Australian Financial Review
The Gina Rinehart-controlled iron ore miner Roy Hill has unveiled the biggest leadership shake-up in its remarkable 10-year history, with chief executive Barry Fitzgerald set to leave the top job within months.
Mr Fitzgerald will take a seat on the Roy Hill board as a representative for Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting as well as representing her on the board of Hope Downs.
Roy Hill announced on Wednesday that chief operating officer Gerhard Veldsman would replace Mr Fitzgerald as chief executive from July 1.
The leadership transition comes after Mr Fitzgerald played a massive role in taking Roy Hill from the final planning stages through construction and into production.
Mr Fitzgerald revealed in October last year that Roy Hill had paid down a $10 billion debt and has declared a maiden dividend of $475 million just five years after making its first iron ore shipment out of Port Hedland in Western Australia.
Mrs Rinehart, Australia’s richest person with a fortune of $35.66 billion, said that in addition to his board roles Mr Fitzgerald would take responsibility for “a range of major development projects using his considerable experience in the iron ore industry to drive growth and future value for the group”.
“On behalf of the Roy Hill board and our terrific team of people I would like to thank Barry Fitzgerald for his remarkable contribution to our mega project (Roy Hill),” she said.
In other leadership changes at Australia’s fourth-biggest iron ore producer behind Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group, Roy Hill’s autonomous haulage system project boss Anthony Kirke will move into the chief operating officer role.
Roy Hill has recruited Komatsu’s Diederik Lugtigheid from Chile to head the autonomous haulage system project.
Roy Hill is 70 per cent owned by Hancock with the balance held by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, South Korea’s POSCO and China Steel Corporation.
Rinehart indicated Roy Hill would not rest on its laurels with more growth planned under Mr Veldsman.
“We are very pleased for Gerhard to now take us forward where we will continue to improve our technology and efficiencies and contribute to the state and country through the provision of more mines after approvals, investment, jobs, royalties, taxes, opportunities and further contribution to communities and worthwhile causes,“ she said in a statement published on the Roy Hill website.
Roy Hill has said it wants to increase iron ore exports out of Port Hedland from 60 million tonnes to 70 million tonnes a year.
Mr Fitzgerald said Roy Hill had been a once-in-a-career project.
“I have been humbled to be part of this mega project which really is the ultimate result of our executive chairman’s [Mrs Rinehart] vision and sheer determination to see the tenements she acquired transform after much risk and work into the operation it is today,” he said.