Ripper rejects reports on Pilbara rail access

WESTERN Australian State Development Minister Eric Ripper has refuted television reports that the State Government is preparing to ‘force’ mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP to share rail access rights with smaller companies in the Pilbara.

WESTERN Australian State Development Minister Eric Ripper has refuted television reports that the State Government is preparing to ‘force’ mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP to share rail access rights with smaller companies in the Pilbara.

He said there was no report before him or the Government.

Furthermore, a review of internal documents showed there was no recommendation for any such change.

The Minister said the ABC TV suggestion of a confidential report to Government which made such recommendations was wrong.

“The simple fact is there are no such recommendations before Government, nor has it considered any such report,” he said.

“The Government does not intend to force anyone to grant a free ride to other parties seeking access rights. This story is simply a beat-up.”

Ripper said the Pilbara Rail Access Interdepartmental Committee (PRAIC) had been discussing a draft regime with interested parties.

But he stressed no such draft had been considered by the Government.

The Minister said Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortesque Metals Group all operated under State Agreements which contained provisions for third party access.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto had already entered into further agreements with the State containing requirements for third party access to their rail infrastructure.

Ripper said the ABC had not approached his office for comment on the claims made in their report but had used footage of him taken five days earlier, responding to general inquiries about progress on rail access

.“I explained at that time that the Government was still working through these issues but it was a difficult exercise,” he said.

“I said we needed to get an appropriate balance between the interests of owners of infrastructure and the interests of those people that seek access to that infrastructure.

“It is disappointing that the ABC has taken my comments out of context and did not clarify the position regarding rail access rights before reporting on the matter.”

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.