Independent rail needed, Campbell

The new North West Iron Ore Alliance chairman wants WA third party rail access decisions made by an independent body.

Any decisions on third party rail access for iron ore producers in Western Australia needs to be taken out of the hands of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, new chairman of the North West Iron Ore Alliance Ian Campbell told MINING DAILY.

Both BHP and Rio have resisted sharing use of the rail network with competing iron ore companies, saying the rail is running at full capacity and could not cope with any extra loads.

“You would not expect them to say anything else. They have got a very strong financial interest in keeping competitors out of the market and off the rail,” Campbell said.

“Our view is that you can’t leave it for them (BHP and Rio) to decide rail access because they are the last people who would act in the interest of Western Australia or Australia.

“We need a reliable, enforceable third party arbiter or regulator to make those decisions.”

Campbell said the suggestion that the rail is operating at capacity is incorrect and not reason enough to keep other companies from having access.

“Every independent expert right up to the High Court has said that there is substantial capacity on those lines,” he said.

“The Alliance believes that there is massive capacity to handle the 50 million tonnes that we are seeking.”

According to Campbell, in light of the proposed joint venture between BHP and Rio the Western Australian Government has an important role to play in helping to open the rail.

“The State Government has said it wants to make rail access for emerging iron ore producers an important condition on facilitating that merger,” he said.

“We need the State Government to push for the Western Australian interest.

“We have a very good opportunity to be at the negotiating table.”

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