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Rio Tinto attacks Gladstone port’s coal ‘bias’

<p>Rio Tinto has called for a more independent approach by port management at Gladstone to prevent the state-owned organisation favouring coal expansion over other port uses.</p> <p>The mining giant made the request during a public hearing of a federal parliamentary committee inquiry into regional rail and road links to ports.</p> <p>Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Comalco Aluminium, has just invested $1.5bn in a new alumina refinery in Gladstone and the company is concerned that expansion of further coal capacity could squeeze out other users, the <em>Courier-Mail</em> reports.</p> <p>Expansion of Gladstone’s upstream coal terminal could put severe pressure on the shipping channel Comalco used for its bauxite and alumina shipments, the company argued.</p> <p>Comalco project services manager Greg Rashford told the Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services in Gladstone yesterday (Thursday, June 9) that there was potential for the state-owned Central Queensland Port Authority to favour coal over less lucrative commodities to maximise returns for Queensland treasury coffers.</p> <p>"I guess the issue for a non-coal trade through Gladstone iswould there ever be a situation where the authority might be in a situation to pick winners with its coal responsibilities, versus its responsibility for overall efficiency," he said.</p> <p>Rio Tinto believes that an independent authority, without a vested interest in any one commodity, should run the port.</p> <p>A port authority should be established to manage general port infrastructure with legal ownership in the public sector with board representation from governments and principal users or user groups with capital raised through commercial channels and recovery through user charges, Rio Tinto said.</p> <br />