18/06/2009 - 00:00

Gindalbie, Asia Iron unfazed by Geraldton port cap

18/06/2009 - 00:00

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A CAP on export volumes through Geraldton port is of little concern for Mid West iron ore hopefuls Gindalbie Metals and Asia Iron, which say the limit only comes into place once the nearby Oakajee port is ready.

A CAP on export volumes through Geraldton port is of little concern for Mid West iron ore hopefuls Gindalbie Metals and Asia Iron, which say the limit only comes into place once the nearby Oakajee port is ready.

The companies' comments came after opposition infrastructure spokesperson Alannah MacTiernan said iron ore miners in the region would face delays in start-up operations of at least three years due to an "arbitrary" iron ore export cap imposed by Premier Colin Barnett.

"While setting this cap, the premier did not consult industry and was unable to give any credible explanation for the cap figure of 12 million tonnes per annum," Ms MacTiernan said.

"The Geraldton Port Authority told parliament during budget estimates that at least one company ready to start iron ore shipments from Geraldton Port in the next two years will be denied access as a result of the cap added by Mr Barnett to the Oakajee deal."

Ms MacTiernan said parliament was told that either Asia Iron or Gindalbie would not be able to start exports in 2011, and would be forced to wait at least three years until Oakajee became operational.

"This will mean the orderly development of the iron ore industry in the Mid West will be compromised and jobs lost, at a time when we need to stimulate employment," she said.

Geraldton Port currently has a cap of about 25mtpa.

Gindalbie spokesperson Michael Weir told WA Business News the company was not concerned about the 12mtpa cap, which was understood to come into play when the Oakajee port was operational.

"We're not concerned about it at this stage," he said.

"We're looking to get into production as soon as possible and our project will be going through Geraldton port and we've got good government support to get the project into production as well.

"We are very confident that we will have capacity that we need to be exporting about 10 million tonnes out of Geraldton Port in 2011 when we start production."

The company has secured land for iron ore storage at Geraldton port and has approval to start construction. It has also secured berths five and seven for exports.

Gindalbi''s Karara iron ore joint venture is expected to underpin the Oakajee port when it comes online, expected in 2014.

Asia Iron managing director Bill Mackenzie said he had concerns over the cap, however a clarification was needed in relation to when it would start.

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