Defence opens talks with WPG

The Department of Defence last week hosted executives from Western Plains Resources (WPG) to discuss the future development of the Hawks Nest magnetite deposit, which lies within the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).

The Department of Defence last week hosted executives from Western Plains Resources (WPG) to discuss the future development of the Hawks Nest magnetite deposit, which lies within the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).

The Department last month informed WPG that it would not support a proposed joint venture with Chinese state-owned steel producer Wuhan Iron and Steel (WISCO) when it came up for review by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

The partners had been negotiating access conditions with the Department in order to carry out a feasibility study for the deposit.

The Department outlined its reasons for vetoing the proposal and explained its safety, operational and national security concerns if exploration and mining commenced, WPG said in a statement.

“WPG reiterated its belief that Defence’s legitimate safety and operational concerns could be mitigated by simple protocols that WPG would agree to,” the company said.

“Defence’s national security concerns could be accommodated by measures already written in the transaction documents between WISCO and WPG and by those that have been subsequently suggested by to Defence.”

According to the company, the Department indicated that any further decisions would be made on a “whole-of-government basis.”

The parties agreed to hold further meetings, but WPG does not know how long the process will take.

The company also separately met with a visiting WISCO delegation early last week.

“WISCO’s representatives stressed their strong commitment to continue to cooperate constructively and patiently with WPG so that this joint venture can proceed,” the company said.

“WISCO further stressed its willingness to consider reasonable changes to the joint venture’s structure and documentation in order to accommodate the Commonwealth’s concerns.”

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