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Australian green energy and iron-ore giant Fortescue has revealed a 6% decline in third-quarter iron-ore shipments, attributed to the repercussions of an ore car derailment on December 30, coupled with weather-related disruptions.

The miner, which swiftly implemented a recovery plan, managed to ship 43.3-million tonnes during the quarter.

The reduction in sales volumes resulted in a 7% increase in Pilbara hematite C1 costs to $18.93 a wet metric tonne.

CEO Dino Otranto commended the Fortescue team for their collective efforts in successfully implementing the recovery plan. “We had a record month for shipments in March of 18.7-million tonnes contributing to 43.3-million tonnes for the quarter. We also set a new record for railed tonnes, all while continuing to improve our safety performance,” he said.

Despite the quarterly setback, Fortescue maintained its guidance for the 2024 financial year at 192-million tonnes to 197-million tonnes. However, shipments are expected to be at the lower end of the range.

Meanwhile, Otranto reported that Fortescue’s decarbonisation plan was progressing well, with the first operational electric excavator moving more than one-million tonnes of material since being commissioned.

The battery electric haul truck prototype has also completed its first phase of testing, exceeding the performance expectations of the battery power system, he said.

Regarding the energy business, Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson said that it had achieved several milestones, including the official opening of the Gladstone electrolyser facility in Queensland, which positions Fortescue as a large scale producer of electrolyser stacks.

“The pipeline of green energy projects continues to develop, and Fortescue entered a landmark joint venture with OCP Group in Morocco which aims to supply green hydrogen and ammonia for use as sources of green energy and in the manufacture of carbon-neutral and customised fertilisers.

“In true Fortescue style, we are rapidly advancing these opportunities while retaining an unwavering focus on costs and capital discipline,” said Hutchinson.

The group had a cash balance of $4.1-billion and net debt of $1.2-billion at March 31, after payment of the interim dividend of $2.2-billion and capital expenditure of $589-million.