Utah Pointreprieve for juniors

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Junior miners using Port Hedland’s Utah Point Bulk Handing Facility will have another six months of cost relief after the State Government announced a six-month extension of funds.

Due to finish on December 31, the State Government announced an extension of the cost-relief package until June 30 in its midyear review.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the discount would assist junior miners to withstand the financial stress of low iron ore prices by applying different discounts on port charges when iron ore prices drop below specific thresholds.

“The decision to extend the discount for another six months provides certainty to junior miners using the Utah facility in the current economic climate,” she said.

“Junior miners contribute to the State’s economy through trade and employment of workers, contractors and suppliers.

“The discount is intended to help junior miners adapt to a lower iron ore price environment going forward.” Ms Saffioti said the continuation of the discount would be considered this year as part of the 2018-19 State Budget.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce said the announcement was a welcome start to the year after continuously advocating for the extension.

“The announcement of the extension of the cost-relief package is good news and provides much-needed support for junior miners exporting through Utah Point,” he said.

“Longer term, the State will need to look at implementing a permanent tiered arrangement for port fees at Utah Point, to ensure there’s certainty for port users.”

The decision follows months of debate whether to sell the bulk- handling facility after Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Robin Chapple introduced the Pilbara Port Assets (Disposal) Repeal Bill 2017 in the Legislative Council in June, calling for the previous government’s sale of the Port Hedland bulk-handling facility to be repealed.

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