Ships waiting to be loaded with iron ore at the Fortescue loading dock located at Port Hedland, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Source: David Gray/Reuters.
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Fortescue Ltd (ASX: FMG) has delivered a mixed-bag report for the March 2024 Quarter, showing a recovery in iron ore shipments from the December period but still down on the same time a year ago.

A train derailment and wild weather woes were the chief culprits for Fortescue’s bumpy ride but the miner reported improved safety rates for workers and encouraging developments in the green energy space.

In the report released today, Fortescue noted that the derailment of an ore car on December 30 and weather disruptions were the key factors behind reduced iron ore shipments of 43.3 million tonnes in the third quarter of the 2024 financial year (Q3 FY2024), a six percent drop from the prior corresponding period a year earlier.

Lower sales volumes in turn pushed the production costs of iron ore – specifically Pilbara Hematite C1 – up by seven percent compared to the second quarter of the 2024 financial year (Q2 FY2024), to US$18.93 per wet metric tonne.

The company stressed that it had picked up shipments in March – 18.7 million tonnes – which had somewhat offset the cataclysmic events of 2023.

Guidance for shipments this financial year remains between 192 and 197 million tonnes.

Fortescue’s Total Recordable Injury frequency Rate (TRIFR) improved during this quarter to 1.5 by the end of March – a 17 percent improvement from December 31 last year.

Revenue-wise, the average for Pilbara Hematite was US$104 per dry metric tonne (DMT) for the quarter – 85 percent of the average Platts 62 percent CFR Index – while Iron Bridge Concentrate revenue was US$145 per DMT for the quarter – 107 percent of the average Platts 65 percent CFR Index.

The energy wing of Fortescue’s business reached achieved several milestones in the quarter, including the use of ammonia as a marine fuel – a world first – onboard the Fortescue Green Pioneer, a Singapore-flagged vessel which sailed to Dubai for the COP28 Conference in December but could not enter the port powered by ammonia as it is yet to be approved by global shipping regulators.

In April Fortescue announced a joint venture with plant nutrition solutions and fertiliser company OCP Group and opened the Gladstone Electrolyser Facility in Queensland, which is set for a manufacturing capacity of 2 gigawatts per annum.

Fortescue CEO Dino Otranto said the company’s efforts to implement a recovery plan in the quarter led to improved shipments for the period.

“We had a record month for shipments in March of 18.7Mt contributing to 43.3Mt for the quarter,” he said.

“We also set a new record for railed tonnes, all while continuing to improve our safety performance. Our decarbonisation plan is progressing well,withour first operational electric excavator moving over one million tonnes of material since being commissioned.

“Our battery electric haul truck prototype has completed its first phase of testing, exceeding the performance expectations of the battery power system.”

Fortescue has been trading down 1.4 per cent at $24.60

FMG by the numbers
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