Fortescue Metals chief complains about port fees

Nev Power

Fortescue Metals has blown the whistle yet again with fresh complaints against government, this time about the “impost” of port fees.

FMG chief Nev Power remarked on the $199 million after-tax profit made by the Pilbara Ports Authority at Port Hedland, suggesting the Western Australian government needed to remember that port fees should target “fair cost recovery”.

“It’s something we should always be aware of, what the total impost of government charges are,” Power said.

“We expect those government monopolies to be efficient and as productive as what we’re doing across our businesses.

“We pay our full share of royalties, and that’s how the Government is extracting the economic rent from the resources.

“The port should be a cost recovery exercise for the operations of the port.”

The WA Department of Treasury 2014-15 Annual report showed that an equity injection was made to reimburse the Pilbara Ports Authority for dividends paid associated with revenue collected under the Port Improvement Rate (PIR).

The increase in iron ore throughput over the past year resulted in outturn being $19.6 million higher than the original 2014-15 Budget, with dividends paid back to the state government for the first time, amounting to $165 million.

FMG has undergone a slight recovery in recent months, with the July-September quarter cash holdings at $US2.6 billion, up $US200 million on the previous quarter.

In the same period the company managed to repay $US384 million of long-term debt, which was refinanced earlier this year.

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