Fortescue loses access fight

Federal Court quashes Fortescue Metals’ seven-year push to gain access to Rio Tinto’s Robe River and Hamersley rail lines in the Pilbara

Fortescue loses access fight
Fortescue loses access fight

6 May, 2011

The Federal Court has effectively quashed Fortescue Metals’ seven-year push to gain access to Rio Tinto’s Robe River and Hamersley rail lines in the Pilbara.

Wednesday’s full-bench decision overturned the Australian Competition Tribunal's July 2010 ruling, which would have seen the private railways declared.

Rather, the court upheld Rio Tinto’s appeal to prevent third party access to its lines, barring all other miners including Fortescue under Part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act.

Fortescue Chief Operating Officer Nev Power says while the ruling was disappointing, Fortescue had been attempting to gain third party access to Pilbara rail since 2004, so the company’s expansion isn't reliant on this access.

"Fortescue’s plans to grow production from 55 million tonnes per annum to 155mpta will not be affected by the decision," Power says.

Power says Fortescue’s growth is built on the construction of its own rail infrastructure, with funding and approvals secured on that basis.

"The Federal Court decision is disappointing in that it returns the Pilbara to a situation where rail lines will be duplicated at great economic and environmental expense," Power says.

"Many miners will be denied the more efficient opportunity to access existing infrastructure.

"Fortescue will continue to provide its own third party rail and port access to junior Pilbara iron ore miners so they can generate export revenue for the local, Western Australian and Federal economies.

"We are reviewing the full detail of the Federal Court decision and will consider available legal options based on that review."

Fortescue Metals is Australia’s third largest iron ore exporter.

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