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Australia's Fortescue taps Woodside veteran as CEO amid green energy push

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Australia's Fortescue Metals Group can be seen on a bulk carrier as it is loaded with iron ore at the coastal town of Port Hedland in Western Australia

(Reuters) - Australia's Fortescue Metals Group on Tuesday appointed former Woodside Energy executive Fiona Hick as its chief executive officer, effective February 2023, as Elizabeth Gaines made way for a new boss in August.

Hick joins Fortescue at a time when the iron ore giant is delving into mining of critical minerals and rare-earths and is also striving to transition into a green energy firm through its unit Fortescue Future Industries (FFI).

Hick spent more than two decades at Woodside, most recently as the executive vice-president of Australian operations, part of the team that led the company through its $40 billion merger with global miner BHP Group's petroleum arm.

She will lead Fortescue Metals' mining arm, culminating a year-long search by the company's billionaire-founder and chairman Andrew Forrest.

Hick will help the company "step beyond fossil fuels", said Forrest.

Gaines, who oversaw a tripling in the share price of one of the world's biggest iron ore miners in the past four years, remains on Fortescue's board as a non-executive director.

Last week, former Reserve Bank of Australia deputy governor Guy Debelle stepped down as the finance chief of FFI. Mark Hutchinson, a former president of General Electric's European operations, is slated to helm FFI by 2022-end.

(This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of Fiona Hick's surname in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan and Savyata Mishra; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)