Concerns over Utah Point advice spend

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph
Port Hedland port
Camera IconPort Hedland port Credit: supplied: Pilbara Ports Authority.

The amount spent on financial advice for the pending sale of Utah Point has been revealed.

The State spent $758,902 on advice from Deloitte in regards to the sale of Utah Point over a six-month period, with more than $1.3 million further spent on advice for Fremantle port.

Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Robin Chapple said he had become aware that a significant amount of money was being spent on getting the facility “ready to be sold”.

“We spent quite a lot of money doing all this pre-feasibility work, for a government that said it would take privatisation to the election.

“I have been talking to the Government to allow the Bill to come on to resend the Bill of Utah Point. The current Government has no interest in progressing the legislation.”

Mr Chapple had previously argued privatisation of the facility would create economic doubt for a number of junior minors, who could potentially be priced out of the market.

He said if someone were to buy it, junior miners, including Mineral Resources, Atlas Iron and Consolidated Minerals, would have to double the rentals to recoup their investment.

“Lets knock the sale over, put it to bed, and then industry workers can rest assured that it won’t be sold and can move onto the future without any doubts lingering in the back of their minds,” he said.

Deputy leader of the Nationals WA Jacqui Boydell said the Nationals would continue to support the sale of the asset provided that the lease delivered value for money, and enforced the negotiated protections for junior miners.

She said the Nationals had not received correspondence from Mr Chapple concerning the content of a Bill he had introduced calling for the sale of Port Hedland bulk handling facility to be repealed.

“We will only support the sale of assets if there is a demonstrable benefit to the users of the asset and to regional WA,” she said.

“We have negotiated to ensure that protections were put in place for junior miners so that the sale of this asset would not have a detrimental effect on their business.”

Ms Boydell said it was important that the smaller companies remained competitive in the current economic climate.

She said while there had not been any recent discussion from the WA Government, Labor’s policy in general was that it was opposed to the sale of assets.

“At this stage I am not aware of the Government’s intention in regards to the sale of Utah Point,” she said.

In July, Mineral Resources general manager of external affairs Gary Gray told the North West Telegraph junior miners were a lot more vulnerable to cost changes, compared to major mining companies.

“For us all costs are important, whether those costs come from the port fees or whether they come from elsewhere, ” he said.

The Utah Point Bulk Handling Facility is one of four berths located in Port Hedland owned by the Pilbara Ports Authority.

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