West Pilbara infrastructure project delayed

Aurizon Holdings has pushed back deadlines for the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project after talks with joint venture partners.

Decisions on whether to proceed with the key transport infrastructure development will not be due until 30 April 2016, after which Aurizon’s period of exclusivity will expire.

If it goes ahead the West Pilbara Iron ore Project will see construction of 400km of rail line and the Anketell port near Cape Lambert, enabling transport of 400 million tonnes of ore per year.

SMH reported Aurizon’s largest shareholder Perpetual has called for the major rail provider to shelve the $6 billion project, as it does not see the project as a feasible investment.

"Aurizon's strong balance sheet gives the company flexibility to pursue genuine growth opportunities when they arise [but] the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project is not one of them,” Perpetual head of Australian equities Paul Skamvougeras said.

Project partners Baosteel Resources, Aquila Resources, POSCO and AMCI will meet with Aurizon by 31 December this year to review initial feasibility studies for mine and infrastructure and determine whether to go ahead with the Definitive Feasibility Study.

Aurizon said in an announcement to the ASX it was committed to the technical and commercial feasibility study stages for the project, albeit on the basis of a significant reduction in the 2012 cost estimates.

“Aurizon and the mine participants are mindful of the volatility in the iron ore market price since the completion of the takeover of Aquila Resources in 2014,” the company said.

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