ACCC rules on Mt Newman rail line

NATIONAL regulator, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says BHP Billiton’s $9 billion Wheelarra iron ore joint venture will not impact on third parties seeking to access BHPB’s Mount Newman railway line. In an announcement last week proposing to authorise the massive deal signed with four Chinese steel mills last September, the ACCC said that during consultations a concern had been raised about ongoing issues of third party access to the railway and that authorisation of the deal would result in lost opportunities to promote competition. As a result railway access implications were considered by the ACCC, but chairman Graeme Samuel said it was found that the joint venture would not prevent parties from seeking access to the railway line. Two iron ore hopefuls, Fortescue Metals Group and Hope Downs, are currently seeking to access the line for their proposed Pilbara iron ore projects. In late 2003 the WA Supreme Court ruled Hope Downs had the right to third party access to BHP Billiton’s Pilbara railway, however access is still being negotiated, while FMG’s application with the National Competition Council for the line to be declared is still being assessed.

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