In what comes as a reproach to iron ore companies fighting over rail access in the Pilbara, Colin Barnett said the warring between resource companies was holding projects up more than government red tape.
Barnett said resource companies fighting over sharing infrastructure is one of the biggest hurdles in keeping projects to time and on budget.
Barnett said the Department of State Development spent more time dealing with disputes between resource companies than it did solving regulatory delays, the West Australian reported.
"People talk in the resources industry about frustrations with government delays and approvals and red tape, and I concede there is still more work to be done," he said.
"But the biggest obstacle to timeliness and keeping costs down is disputes and lack of agreement and a lack of sharing infrastructure in the mining and the petroleum sectors. And the companies need to look at themselves – and (the rail access dispute) is an example."
The rebuke by Barnett comes amid revelations that Fortescue Metals is seeking to charge junior Brockman up to $576 million a year to access part of its Pilbara rail line.
Analysts say the price is well above $17.50 to $20/t figure FMG is charging BC Iron for haulage, which also includes port handling prices at Port Hedland.
The junior iron ore explorer is seeking access to FMG’s rail infrastructure in the Pilbara and wants to haul up to 20 million tonnes of iron ore per year from Marillana to a proposed rail spur near Port Hedland.
But Brockman has requested that the Western Australian Economic Regulation Authority step in to set an access price after private negotiations between the companies failed to result in an agreement.
Barnett said the dispute was a commercial matter, but still "concerning".
"Ultimately, Government could introduce legislation I suppose, but I would just appeal to companies to be sensible," he said.