WA’s lack of infrastructure crippling Mid West development

A lack of port and rail infrastructure in WA’s Mid West is hamstringing the development of iron ore assets in the region, one investor has warned.

Chinese investor Sinosteel said billions of dollars of developments will be impossible to unlock unless key infrastructure is built.

The suspended Oakajee port project is amongst the infrastructure plays that are threatening future development, The West Australian reports.

Sinosteel is reportedly meeting with industry representatives in Sydney the week to discuss proposed developments which are being put on the back burner as a result of the lack of rail and port facilities.

The company’s mineral resources deputy director, Pan WenLiang, told The West Australian Sinosteel’s development plans as well as the thousands of jobs they would potentially support are at risk.

"We have to deal with infrastructure . . . otherwise it's a mission impossible," he said.

Mitsubishi officially shelved its $6 billion Oakajee port and rail project in June citing a difficult economic climate and lack of consensus amongst joint venture partners as reasons behind the decision.

The project was halted in November last year with Mitsubishi announcing it was looking to cut costs globally.

The port failed to attract Chinese investors but Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett at the time said he is still hopeful the Oakajee Port & Rail project in the state’s Midwest can be restarted.

The project was designed to service the burgeoning Mid West and Yilgarn iron ore region, which has struggled to get off the ground.

Sinosteel halted its planned $2 billion Weld Range project in 2011, partly because it couldn’t secure rail access to an undeveloped port.

Sinosteel board secretary Li Kejie said the port issue is holding back the company's Mid West expansion plans.

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