BORAL Limited is negotiating for the purchase of key assets in Albany as it renews interest in the lower Great Southern town’s building and construction business.The building products giant has been looking at different quarry sites for more than six months for its concrete and road mix businesses, but has had an uphill battle against local community and environment pressure groups.At the same time, Boral has been quietly negotiating with Albany entrepreneur Bill Noble for his quarry and concreting business, which includes a yard in Denmark and Albany, as well as the quarry on John Street in Albany.While Mr Noble confirmed the rumours that his company, Great Southern Concrete and Sand Supplies, which he started six years ago, was being targeted by Boral, he said nothing had been finalised and a due diligence was still to be carried out.Mr Noble has met with Boral WA manager of quarries and concrete Wally Lukic, but was waiting on a decision to be made by Boral.“Nothing has been signed, it still may not happen,” Mr Noble said.“They have not paid anything yet. I told them (Boral) that if its going to happen its going to have to happen by the first week of March otherwise I will walk away.”Speculation is that the transaction, which will not include the freehold ownership of the sites, would net Mr Noble several million dollars. Mr Noble was, however, unwilling to confirm the likely purchase price, citing a confidentiality agreement.If the purchase is finalised, Boral will be taking industry heavyweight CSR head-on in capturing Great Southern contracts.Mr Lakic said Boral had been considering four sites around Albany, with the most promising owned by competitor CSR at Torbay, 20 kilometres west of the town.He said Great Southern Concrete alone would not be enough to fulfil the needs of Boral in the long term.Mr Lakic said finding a suitable quarry was of key strategic importance to any expansion plan Boral had in the area.“Our transport business and all our other businesses must operate off a quarry hub. That is the natural order of things,” he said.“You must first set up your quarry and then other businesses will flow from that.”However, Boral Ltd must first contend with local opposition to its move to the coastal city.The difficulties industry can face with local residents over noise and pollution concerns has been evidenced by a number of instances in Perth and beyond recently.Native Title issues also are seen as something of an impediment to building resource development, particularly where access to Crown land is consideredBoral already operates 100 quarry sites around Australia, including five hard rock quarries in WA – in Maddington, Port Hedland and Karratha.Boral also has another fight on its hands, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission indicating earlier this month that it was investigating price irregularities in brick markets in Perth between September and December 2001.Both Boral and Bristle are subject to the investigation into possible breeches of the Trade Practices Act.
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