24/09/2008 - 22:00

Approvals top of iron ore agenda

24/09/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

WESTERN Australia's iron ore miners have called on the newly elected state government to deliver on an election promise to provide a more efficient approvals process for new mine and exploration licences.

WESTERN Australia's iron ore miners have called on the newly elected state government to deliver on an election promise to provide a more efficient approvals process for new mine and exploration licences.

Speaking at an Australian Institute of Company Directors forum in Perth, some key players criticised the Department of Industry and Resources for the backlog of projects requiring a government tick of approval.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh said the decision-making process was so inefficient the mining giant had 1,000 items awaiting the green light from authorities.

"So it will be interesting to see how the new state government here intends to handle these," he said.

Mr Walsh told the forum that, although Rio Tinto had a full order book and would not be rescheduling projects, growing lead times were affecting most major projects in WA, which in turn was limiting capacity levels.

"Time frames are going out two, three, four years, which means we are having to commit to these projects in advance of completion of full feasibility studies," he said.

Mount Gibson Iron Ore Ltd managing director Luke Tonkin called on the incoming minister for mines and petroleum, Norman Moore, to put the "do" back into DoIR.

"Currently, we see significant disablement within that body rather than enablement," Mr Tonkin told the forum.

He also said it was vital that duplication was eliminated from the approvals process.

"You are now dealing with at least seven decision-making authorities instead of the usual one, [from] seven or eight years ago," Mr Tonkin said.

"And that has created an enormous amount of duplication and unnecessary workload for everyone involved, including the government.

"The other thing I'd like to see to break through the bureaucracy is to establish some form of accountability to the decision-making authorities with respect to timeframes and an independent review of the decision-making process.

"At the moment you tend to linger and lag for months and years in your approval process and it really is a reset of the clock each time you start that process."

WA Business News columnist Peter Strachan, from Stock Analysis, said Australia had been selling itself short on commodities over the years.

"I think the bottom line from Australia's point of view is, Australia has been selling its commodities, including iron ore, way too cheap," he told the forum.



STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options