Maritime & Transport / Rail

WA ‘requires’ railway engineering boost

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Important railway engineering projects and port developments are required in Western Australia to ensure iron ore resources are properly utilised, according to Sinosteel.

The Chinese group told The West Australian that it has shelved a number of projects in the state due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.

This includes the company’s $2 billion Weld Range initiative, with the 2011 project being mothballed because of poor rail access to the proposed Oakajee port, which has also been officially put on hold.

The $6 billion Oakajee scheme, led by Mitsubishi, was given state government approval in 2009, with premier Colin Barnett predicting iron ore would begin shipping from the port in 2013-14.

However, the scheme was officially put on hold earlier this year after work on the initiative slowed in November 2012 due to cost blowouts, delays and economic restraints.

This was despite $700 million of state and federal government committed investment.

Sinosteel will now join other mining groups at a discussion in Sydney to try and rescue the project, as well as raise concerns about WA infrastructure hurdles in general.

Pan WenLiang, the company’s mineral resources deputy director, told The West Australian: “We have to deal with infrastructure … otherwise it’s a mission impossible.”

Rail_Multi-Disciplinary_Engineering_Workshop_P14GT07WEBPDF-1He argued that Sinosteel has a number of projects in the pipeline that could support thousands of jobs in Western Australia, yet they will continue to be under threat unless railway and port facilities are improved.

Among the issues to be discussed in Sydney include the disparate ownership of tenements on the Oakajee port venture.

Sinosteel board secretary Li Kejie hinted at his organisation’s intentions for the initiative, claiming that should the company be the sole proprietor of the scheme, it could develop as it wishes.

This would enable a number of lucrative developments in the Mid West to get the green light, he added.

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