FMG will appeal Pilbara rail ruling

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The High Court has granted Fortescue Metals Group leave to appeal a decision prohibiting it from accessing Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton’s Pilbara rail lines.

Rio Tinto said in a statement on Friday no date had been set for the new hearing but it expected the case to be heard in the first half of 2012.

FMG’s right to appeal is the latest development in a long running battle over rail access in the Pilbara.

Previous rulings have declared FMG’s third party access to lines built by Rio and BHP was not in the public interest and would cause unacceptable problems for the main users.

But third party access to the lines forms an important part of FMG meeting its ambitious expansion targets.

In its appeal FMG will be making technical arguments about the court’s interpretation of the law.

Rio said in a statement it had agreed with the court’s previous findings and would defend itself against FMG’s appeal.

“Rio Tinto maintains that the potential costs of access far exceed any theoretical benefits,” it said.

“This was accepted in the findings of the Australian Competition Tribunal.”

“Rio Tinto will therefore take all appropriate steps to defend these appeals.”

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