28/06/2018 - 12:34

Atlas hopeful on port rights

28/06/2018 - 12:34

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The future of Atlas Iron has been further muddied today after the takeover target said the state government had indicated to media it could compromise on its policy regarding development rights at Port Hedland if either Fortescue Metals Group or Hancock Prospecting takes control of the junior miner.

Atlas says Mark McGowan has indicated the state government could come to a compromise. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The future of Atlas Iron has been further muddied today after the takeover target said the state government had indicated to media it could compromise on its policy regarding development rights at Port Hedland if either Fortescue Metals Group or Hancock Prospecting takes control of the junior miner.

Atlas owns 63 per cent of North West Infrastructure, which was awarded rights a decade ago to develop a 50 million tonne per year iron ore shipping facility at South West Creek.

On June 14, the state government said NWI no longer held those priority development rights, a position Atlas said was contrary to its understanding. 

The government also said that the two berths were reserved for ‘junior miners’ and the Pilbara Ports Authority would assess any development application on its merits.

“Atlas notes media comments attributed to the Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan indicate that the state government has not ruled out a compromise on its ‘junior miner’ policy if an iron ore major emerges as an owner of Atlas,” the company said in a statement to the ASX today.

“Atlas notes that, in any event, the shareholders of NWI remain in aggregate the owners of the largest undeveloped Pilbara resources, other than existing major producers.”

Business News contacted the Premier's office today for comment, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti refused to clarify the definition of a junior miner in parliament earlier this month.

Atlas also said today that an independent valuation report from 2016 attributed no value to Atlas’s interest in NWI.

Today’s announcement comes after Fortescue yesterday called for further clarity from Atlas regarding its development rights at South West Creek.

Fortescue purchased a 19.9 per cent stake in Atlas earlier this month, saying it did not intend to support a $280 million takeover offer from Chris Ellison-led Mineral Resources, which has since been topped with a $390 million bid from Hancock Prospecting.

Both Fortescue and Hancock subsidary Roy Hill Holdings have berths adjacent to South West Creek, while Mineral Resources has disclosed it is in discussions with the Pilbara Ports Authority to develop its own berth at South West Creek.

 

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