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Murchison, WestNet Rail sign MOU

THE jockeying by four different groups to position themselves as the preferred developer of new rail and port infrastructure in the Mid West has taken a new turn, with iron ore miner Murchison Metals Ltd linking with Babcock & Brown Ltd subsidiary WestNet Rail. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate integration of WestNet’s existing rail network with Murchison’s proposed rail link to planned iron ore mines. WestNet operates 5,100 kilometres of standard, narrow and dual gauge rail network across Western Australia, while Murchison owns the Jack Hills iron ore project and recently signed an agreement with Japan’s Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd to develop new rail and port infrastructure in the Mid West. The agreement will include examination of a number of detailed rail network integration issues, including a proposal for the network to access the planned Oakajee port, north of Geraldton, along a common rail corridor. News of the agreement comes just over three weeks after iron ore developer, Gindalbie Metals Ltd, announced the signing of agreements with both WestNet Rail and competing infrastructure developer, Yilgarn Infrastructure Ltd, to explore opportunities for the longer-term needs of its Mid West operations. Yilgarn has also allied itself with iron ore miner, Midwest Corporation Ltd. Both groups have been working with Chinese companies on the possible construction of a rail network and new port at Oakajee. However Midwest’s plans hit a snag last week when the state government said it considered a 1973 state agreement authorising the construction of a port and railway north of Geraldton “very dated and unworkable in its current form”.

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