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Iron Road progress

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mr TRELOAR ( Flinders ) ( 15:23 :07 ): I rise today to make some comments on the back of a story that appeared in today’s Advertiser newspaper on page 53 in the Business Daily. It is headlined ‘Major Chinese banks back Eyre iron ore’. This relates to the iron ore project Iron Road at Warramboo, and I quote:

Iron Road has attracted formal expressions of interest from three major Chinese banks to fund its $US4   billion Eyre Peninsula iron ore and infrastructure project …

The banks involved are set to contribute about $3 billion worth of the debt component, and Iron Road also has China Railway Group involved in the Central Eyre Iron Project as a project development partner.

According to the article, Iron Road are also talking to a consortium of international pension funds that wish to participate in the equity pool. China Railway Group already has an agreement to take 10 million tonnes of the magnetite ore a year should the project go ahead. I notice that, on the back of this announcement—and the market was probably aware that this announcement was in the wind—the share price for Iron Road has been sneaking up in recent times and has peaked today at 28¢. I have been watching this project proposal with great interest over the last seven years that I have been the member for Flinders.

The proposal consists of three separate parts, although they are all required, should the mine site develop. The first is the mine site itself, situated just east of Warramboo on Eyre Peninsula. It is a magnetite ore deposit. In fact, it has been known since the early 1960s that iron ore has been situated here at Warramboo. Various companies have come and gone over those years. This time, however, Iron Road have been much more serious with their development proposal and are well on the way to raising capital and getting approvals from government as well, pending improvements. I have no doubt that there will be conditions imposed on those approvals.

Along with the mine site, there is an infrastructure corridor for a railway track and a water pipeline to carry desalinated water to the mine site from an underground basin to the east. The rail track, via train, will take magnetite to a new port development at Cape Hardy, just south of Port Neill—exciting times, should this go ahead. It has taken many years to get to this point, and it comes on the back of what turned out to be the final meeting of the community consultative group at the Warramboo football clubrooms just last week.

I have been a member of that community group for the last four or five years. It has been ably chaired by Helen Lamont as an independent chair. Helen is well known across Eyre Peninsula and did a sterling job in what was sometimes a very difficult discussion. Also present on the committee were local government, the Iron Road company itself, local business owners and also affected landowners. Those affected landowners, I would suggest, fall into two categories: those who are directly affected by the mine footprint and those indirectly affected, who are adjacent or a little way away.

It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for those landowners particularly and there has been a spectrum of opinion throughout the landowners and across the committee itself. The biggest concern for me all through this has been the uncertainty not just for the landowners but for all interested parties—local government, local business owners—because nobody has really known throughout this process whether or not this project is going to go ahead.

We are getting closer to an answer, and I certainly hope that this uncertainty can be resolved soon one way or the other. If this project does go ahead, it will no doubt bring significant change to the Eyre Peninsula landscape. It will drive significant investment, not just in the mine site but also around services such as electricity, water and transport infrastructure. In fact, it will drive investment into those things that we so desperately need investment in.


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