Western Australian transport minister Rita Saffioti says Atlas Iron does not have a priority right to a potentially lucrative berth development at Port Hedland.
Access to the proposed berths, Stanley Point Berth 3 and 4, has been cited as a potential key component in the recent investments in the struggling company by mining giants Hancock Prospecting and Fortescue Metals Group, which have invested 19.96 and 19.9 per cent respectively within the last week.
Saffioti explained that the berths were reserved for junior miners (a comment that prompted debate in the WA State Parliament) and that project assessment would be up to the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA).
Atlas responded to the minister’s assertion via the ASX yesterday following a brief trading halt, stating that Saffioti’s comments were “contrary to the previous stated position of the Western Australian Government”.
Atlas wants to develop two berths through its 63 per cent joint venture interest in North West Infrastructure (NWI) on the southwest side of Port Hedland’s inner harbour, potentially expanding its existing capacity of 13 million tonnes a year (Mt/y)— through its single berth at state-owned Utah Point — to over 50Mt/y.