Fortescue Metals Group backs down in mines harassment cases

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group will invest $1.1 billion in new green hydrogen projects.

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group will invest $1.1 billion in new green hydrogen projects. Photo: AAP

Fortescue Metals Group has backed down in its stand-off with West Australian regulators, saying it will provide documents relating to alleged sexual harassment cases.

WorkSafe last week revealed it was prosecuting Fortescue for failing to supply the documents as part of an investigation into harassment at the Christmas Creek, Solomon and Cloudbreak mining operations.

The Andrew Forrest-chaired mining giant was charged with 34 counts of refusing or failing to comply with a requirement to provide documents to a WorkSafe inspector within a specified period without a reasonable excuse.

Fortescue initially defended its position, saying there was “no legal basis” for the regulator to demand the information and it would not release the details of employees without their knowledge and consent.

But the company on Monday said it had resolved to co-operate following a meeting with the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

“The Fortescue board today considered the WorkSafe prosecution announced last week,” the company said in a statement.

“Fortescue will submit documents to WorkSafe with the names of our people redacted to protect their identities.

“We will continue to work and collaborate with WorkSafe, as we always have, to ensure our people always feel safe to speak up.”

The company said it had zero-tolerance for inappropriate workplace behaviour but remained “fiercely protective” of staff and their private information.

A WorkSafe spokeswoman said the commissioner was aware of Fortescue’s offer and would evaluate the information when it was received.

The case involving Fortescue had been listed for mention in a Perth court next month.

A parliamentary inquiry last year found WA’s multi-billion dollar mining industry had failed to protect female workers from predatory behaviour, including targeted violence, stalking, grooming and threats to their livelihoods.


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