Western Australian gov't calls for Chinese investment in Oakajee port and rail project

18:54, November 24, 2010      

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Western Australian (WA) State Premier Colin Barnett called for Chinese companies Wednesday to invest in the state's 4.4 billion U.S. dollars stalled Oakajee port and rail project.

The project is a joint venture between Australia's Murchsion Metals and Japan's Mitsubishi.

Analyst said that once completed, the Oakajee facility would serve as the gateway for more iron ore investments in WA.

"I welcome Chinese companies playing a bigger role because China is the market for this iron ore," Barnett told Fairfax Radio.

"The price of iron ore is 160 U.S. dollars a tonne, it wasn't that long ago it was 80 U.S. dollars a tonne ... so Oakajee is a goer, a big goer. What I'm trying to do is align the various commercial and investment entities so that it goes ahead."

According to The Australian newspaper, the call came after several Chinese companies, including Sinosteel and Ansteel, have expressed interest in taking a stake in the project.

Questions have recently been raised over the completion of Oakajee with speculation the project's partners Mitsubishi and Murchison Metals are having difficulties with financing, because Mitsubishi wants to pull out.

Earlier this month Murchison Metals said the project in WA's mid-west would be delayed for up to six months, as it waited for key agreements to be finalized.



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