With the iron ore boom reaching its end, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett holds out hope for the much needed $6 billion Oakajee Port & rail project that would be a boon to the state’s Midwest. The project hit the brakes when Mitsubishi shelved in in an effort to cut costs.
Burnett, just back from an official trip to China, where steel production is said to be bottoming out, believes that the golden days of iron ore in the state are coming to an end. He predicts that the mine expansions currently underway in the Pilbara at BHP Biliton, Rio Tinto and Fortesque Metals Group will be the last of their kind as huge investment monies evaporate.
He feels the massive industry has reached maturity and hopes that China will invest in the Oakajee project. According to The Australian, Barnett said in talks with China’s National Development and Reform Commission, it was agreed that WA would focus on developing the port aspect of the project, where China would construct the railway portion.
The unstable commodity prices and unpredictability of the global metals market forced Mitsubishi to defer the project last year. Iron ore miners in WA are looking at ways to avoid further mine expansions and limit spending. The weakened iron ore prices contribute to the lack of investment interest but the premier continues to be hopeful.