Greens slam Rio’s exit from Abbot Point

The Greens have slammed Rio Tinto for its decision to pull out of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal expansion as BHP reaffirms its commitment to the development.

The exit comes after Rio said ‘economic uncertainty’ pushed it away from the port development.

"Rio Tinto withdrew from the current process for the potential development of additional port capacity at Abbot Point, due to changes in the economic environment and the commitments required to progress the option," a Rio Tinto spokesperson said.

"Global economic markets have shifted to a period of significant uncertainty and we continue to see both a sustained upward pressure on costs and long timeframes for regulatory approvals."

However the miner has not ruled out future participation.

"Rio Tinto would welcome the opportunity to participate in further discussions should key elements of the Abbot Point proposal be revised in the future, such as the development model and scope of commitment required. Rio Tinto’s focus at present is evaluating potential alternatives to Abbot Point for additional port capacity."

However, despite opposing the expansion of the coal terminal, the Greens have now criticised the miner for its withdrawal, the Daily Mercury reported.

The Greens candidate for Whitsunday, Jonathon Dykyj, said the exit shows Rio’s ‘true colours’.

"Them dropping out shows a lack of commitment to the community," Dykyj said.

"They’re driven by greed."

BHP Billiton yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to the expansion.

The miner was forced to make the announcement after concerns were raised that it would follow in Rio Tinto’s footsteps, with the member for Dawson, George Christensen, saying that other miners may follow them out the door.

"There’s speculation BHP Billiton could be jittery on (the expansion) as well," he said yesterday.

A BHP spokesperson said that the miner has the preferred developer status for the new terminal development.

The $6.2 billion expansion of the coal port would see four additional coal terminals built;  providing an extra annual capacity of 120 million tonnes and  supporting developments in the Bowen, Surat, and GalileeBasins of Queensland.

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