WA Labor draws ire of mining companies

Mining companies in Western Australia have slammed a state election pledge by the Labor party to scrap funding for the massive Oakajee port development.

Labor has pledged to remove $339 million allocated to Oakajee to help fund a new rail project in Perth.

The West Australian reports the plan has drawn criticism from mining companies in the state's mid-west, who claim Labor has ignored the importance of the fledgling region.

“WA Labor is prioritising the city over the mid-west and the future development of one of the State's most important region,” Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance CEO Rob Jefferies said.

Oakajee Port and Rail CEO John Langoulant also said the project needed Government funding in order to proceed.

Late last year Japanese giant Mitsubishi indefinitely shelved plans for the Oakajee project, blaming volatile iron ore prices and global uncertainty for the setback.

Most of the jobs associated with the project were also cut, with the conglomerate moving in a skeleton crew to maintain the operation.

On top of the $339m allocated to the project by the State Liberal Government, the Gillard Government has also pledged around $341m to help support the development.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said withdrawing funding from the project would help other developments go ahead.

“We will take the $339 million allocated to Oakajee, a project that is not happening, and put it into a project that will create jobs,” he said.

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