INTERVIEW-Australia's Fortescue considers diversifying into gold, copper, energy


QINGDAO, China, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Fortescue Metals Group, the world's No. 4 iron ore miner, is considering investing in energy infrastructure and exploring for gold, copper and lithium as it diversifies its business, Chief Executive Neville Power told Reuters on Wednesday.

Power, who is due to step down in February, also said China's plan to cut steel output in key areas, including Tangshan in the top-producing Hebei province, may affect demand for raw material iron ore there. But appetite in parts of China not covered by the winter cuts could help cushion any impact, he said.

Exploring for gold, copper and lithium "can provide strategic options for us for diversification and growth from a very low cost base", Power said in an interview on the sidelines of an industry conference.

"So we don't have to go and make acquisitions, but rather we're using our exploration skills to develop that growth option."

Fortescue announced Power's departure on Sept. 15, taking the market by surprise and causing shares to slide. Power who became CEO in 2011 led the miner's expansion that took iron ore production to 170 million tonnes last year from 55 million tonnes when he started.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)