Defence flags possible talks

The Department of Defence yesterday indicated it was prepared to restart negotiations over the proposed joint venture at the Hawks Nest magnetite deposit.

In a move that will encourage Western Plains Resources (WPG) and Wuhan Iron and Steel (WISCO), the Department of Defence yesterday indicated it was prepared to restart negotiations over the companies’ proposed joint venture at the Hawks Nest magnetite deposit.

WPG and WISCO, a Chinese state-owned company, earlier in the week extended the joint venture transaction deadline by three months until January 2010.

This would allow all parties to return to the negotiating table, WPG said.

A Defence spokesperson yesterday confirmed that the Department was open to new discussions and intended to meet with WPG.

“The Department of Defence has been approached today by Western Plains proposing further discussions,” the spokesperson told MINING DAILY.

“The Department will meet with the company when appropriate representatives of both organisations are available.”

The partners had been negotiating access conditions with the Department in order to carry out a feasibility study for the deposit, which is located within the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).

However, Defence told the companies that it would not support the joint venture application when it was assessed by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

WPG chief executive Heath Roberts told MINING DAILY yesterday morning that, up to that point, there had been no contact with Defence since it informed the company of its position.

However, WISCO was still keen to participate in the project, he said.

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