Atlas rail deal 'making progress'

ATLAS Iron managing director Ken Brinsden says a highly anticipated rail deal for the company’s rapidly expanding Pilbara operations may be leveraged through an agreement involving its Port Hedland harbour port capacity.
Atlas rail deal 'making progress' Atlas rail deal 'making progress' Atlas rail deal 'making progress' Atlas rail deal 'making progress' Atlas rail deal 'making progress'

Mining at Pardoo.


Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce business briefing in Perth this morning, Brinsden reiterated to attendees that a rail agreement was imminent but was again resistant to providing a specific timeline.

“It’s the question on everyone’s lips,” Brinsden admitted.

“I am very reluctant to get locked into timelines but I can tell you that we are making progress and it will be sooner rather than later.

“In our last couple of statements about infrastructure we deliberately got more explicit about our progress.

“Our confidence comes from the idea that we have a valuable port position and there is leverage in that valuable port position against rail services.”

Atlas’ operation runs a trucking model but as Brinsden acknowledges, the company’s expanding operations means that at some point in the near future, a rail model will be necessary.

“It is our port position that will ultimately unlock the potential in our resource base through the connection to rail,” Brinsden explained.

“Atlas’ port position is incredibly valuable. We have the rights to 46 million tonnes per annum of inner harbour capacity.

“It’s only a small piece of real estate but it’s of global significance and we control roughly 10% or 12% of [the Port Hedland port's] total capacity.”

Brinsden said Atlas had decided from its very early days to remain far removed from the renowned infrastructure wars between companies operating in the Pilbara and instead was eager to find a mutually beneficial solution.

“We always took the view that when thinking about infrastructure that we wouldn’t fight and we wouldn’t try and bash our way onto somebody’s railway line,” he said.

“We have the perspective that there are win-win opportunities that can be developed.

“There are opportunities for everybody to get what they want, in thinking about infrastructure and in particular how it can be shared.

“That is very much the way that we think about infrastructure and ultimately the way that we believe rail solutions will be delivered for Atlas’ continued growth.

“There is an opportunity there and as a result we are now able to have a healthy and pragmatic discussion about how it can unfold.”

During his presentation Brinsden also discussed his passion for the Pilbara region, its importance to the Australian economy and his faith in global iron ore demand remaining strong.