Rail line shake-up in Pilbara

June 11, 2008

June 11th (ABC Rural) – Western Australia’s iron ore industry will face its biggest shake up in decades with the launch of a Rail Haul Regime that will see smaller producers use existing rail lines.

Mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton built the lines in the Pilbara under state agreements 40 years ago and have, until now, had exclusive access to them.

New iron ore player Fortescue Metals Group was unable to strike a deal to use the rail, so instead built its own.

State Treasurer Eric Ripper says he can’t force the companies to open their rail up to third party users, but he expects them to honour the so called ‘spirit’ of the state agreements.

“What we’re looking for is a more efficient industry, more competition, more production even than we’ve got at the moment,” he says.

“And an access regime has a part to play, particularly for bringing smaller tenements and junior miners’ operations into play.”

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