AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Environmental crackdown could hurt mid-west iron ore

<p>Millions of dollars of investment in the mid west region of Western Australia could be threatened amid an environmental crackdown on iron ore mining in the region, the Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance fears.</p> <p>The <em> Australian</em> reported this morning (Monday, December 4) that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had recommended that part of Mt Gibson Iron’s Extension Hill project near Geraldton be declared off limits.</p> <p>The company said it would appeal the decision, which the EPA believed would decimate at least two plant species found in the area.</p> <p>WA resources minister John Bowler last week flagged a review of the mid-west region’s iron ore activity in an effort to protect the area’s &#8220special biodiversity&#8221.</p> <p>But Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance chairman Clive Brown told The <em> Australian</em> that the alliance and Mt Gibson would appeal the decision.</p> <p>"Essentially, mining is going to be facing an uphill battle in WA," Mr Brown said. </p> <p>Any crackdown on the mining could threaten the largely foreign-backed mining operations.</p> <p>Gindalbie Metals’ nearby Karara iron ore project has about $1bn of backing from Anshan Iron &#38 Steel of China and is one of several to be heavily-backed by Asian customers.</p> <p>Gindalbie has already spent money complying with a state government directive that it move its iron ore by rail by mid 2007.</p> <p>There are now three iron ore miners exporting from the area, all through the port of Geraldton. </p> <p>Up to seven mines are being planned over the next three years, taking the port to 20m tones each year by 2008. </p> <p>The proposed $650m port at Oakajee, 22 km north of Geraldton, would add another 60m tonnes of capacity to the region’s iron ore exports from 2012.</p> <br />