Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) CEO Elizabeth Gaines is standing down. 

Ms Gaines is giving up her role after 20 years as chief executive, becoming a non-executive director on the FMG board and working as its global green hydrogen ambassador.

“I am delighted that the chairman, Andrew Forrest AO, has invited me to remain on the board,” Ms Gaines said this week.

“The opportunity to continue to contribute to Fortescue and serve our shareholders is a unique privilege and I look forward to building on my nine years with Fortescue which, since 2013, has seen me serve as a non-executive director, chief financial officer and CEO.”

Ms Gaines was the chief executive officer of Hello World before joining FMG. Before that, she was chief executive of prominent Perth family business Heytesbury, established by Robert Holmes à Court, Australia's first billionaire.

Mr Forrest said Ms Gaines has been “one of Australia's truly inspiring leaders”. 

“We are grateful that she has accepted the critical role of ensuring the world understands that green hydrogen, green ammonia, green energy and all its products, are combined, the only practical implementable solution to global warming that can be delivered on a commercial, highly sustainable basis,” he said.

“Elizabeth's depth of character, leadership, global integrity and respect is appreciated by Fortescue's executives and fellow directors.”

FMG - Australia’s third largest iron ore miner - is moving away from its favoured commodity to reposition itself as a green energy provider.

It has launched a spinoff, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), to send its executives around the world to promote plans to help move the world to green hydrogen power.

“FFI is making enormous progress and will support the decarbonisation of Fortescue through the innovation and technological development of a green fleet and the supply of green energy,” Mr Forrest said.

“We are undergoing a significant transition, and I am delighted that with Elizabeth, the board is united in its vision and enthusiasm for the opportunity this presents.”