Cashed-up Fortescue recasts its ambitions

The scale of Fortescue's debt reduction and soaring cash flows mark a turning point for the once debt-laden company, which could soon start lifting cash returns to shareholders.

The continuing transformation of Fortescue Metals over a little more than a year is as impressive for the rate of that change as well as for its nature.

In late 2012, when iron ore prices crashed below $US90 a tonne, Fortescue was extraordinarily vulnerable. It was in the midst of massive production ramp-up, had relatively high cash costs and was carrying a massive and rapidly rising debt load.

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