SYDNEY, AAP – Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals has reported better access to workers since Western Australia relaxed quarantine conditions, which could help performance after first-half profit slipped.

Fortescue boss Elizabeth Gaines on Wednesday said the company was focused on getting workers needed for its Pilbara operations and the easing of coronavirus quarantine rules for arrivals from 14 days to seven had helped.

“We’ve had some good movement in getting critical workers into WA since the reduction in the quarantine period,” Ms Gaines said.

“We’re seeing much enhanced mobility in our workforce.”

However progress has not been as smooth since WA Premier Mark McGowan decided against re-opening the state to the rest of Australia from February 5.

Pipeline installers contracted from Queensland were due to arrive en masse soon after the border reopened to work on Fortescue’s $4.6 billion Iron Bridge magnetite project, south of Port Hedland.

Ms Gaines said some workers had arrived.

The project is vulnerable to increased costs in a coronavirus-constrained trading environment.

However it was reduced demand for iron ore which felled the first-half profit.

The Chinese economy slowed and environmental limits were imposed on factory output before the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Net profit after tax dropped 32 per cent to $US2.7 billion for the six months to December 31.

The Andrew Forrest-founded miner had record exports but could not avoid the effects of reduced demand for steel.

The average iron ore price fell to $US96 per tonne. The steel-making commodity had traded for an average $US114 per tonne in the previous corresponding period.

Costs also rose as the Eliwana mine and rail project began operating.

Investors will receive an interim dividend of 86 cents per share. This is lower than the $1.47 per share paid this time last year.

Royal Bank of Canada analyst Kaan Peker said the earnings were broadly in line with what investors expected.

Company shares on the ASX were down two per cent to $21.12 at 1403 AEDT.