Rail access still on Fortescue’s radar

Andrew Forrest is adamant Fortescue will not build another railway line in the Pilbara.

Fortescue Metals will continue to fight for rail access in Western Australia and remains hopeful of ultimately breaking the dominance of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, Fortescue chief executive Andrew Forrest said yesterday.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Perth, Forrest said that Fortescue is aiming for third party rail access owned by Rio Tinto to allow transportation of ore from its proposed third mine, Solomon, to port facilities.

“We won’t do it through building another railway line,” he said at the meeting.

“If common sense prevails – if the ACCC determines that the railway lines are to be shared we will be able to really grow the Solomon hub.”

Forrest said he disagrees with comments made Wednesday by BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers, suggesting Australia is at risk of losing its place as chief resources supplier to Asia because of a lack of foreign capital.

“Kloppers said yesterday Australians have lost market share, particularly in iron ore to Brazil,” he said.

“What I can assure you the reason why we have lost that market share is because we haven’t shared … infrastructure.”

The Fortescue boss’ words come after BHP iron ore and coal chief executive Marcus Randolph this week told the Australian Competition Tribunal that the miner stands to lose up to $8.5 billion loss if Fortescue gained access to its private Western Australian railways.

Randolph said that any third party access would negate a substantial part of the benefit projected from BHP and Rio’s planned US$116 billion iron ore joint venture.

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