Former Federal resources minister Gary Gray has called on the State Government and Opposition to come together to rewrite a State Agreement with Clive Palmer’s company Mineralogy to allow a key iron ore project to go ahead in a bid to save 3000 jobs.
Mr Gray, the Labor member for Brand from 2007 to 2016, said it was time for the Parliament to put WA first and allow the Sino Iron project to expand.
The West Australian revealed last week that Premier Mark McGowan was looking to insert a new clause in the State Agreement that would allow Chinese company CITIC to expand its operations without needing the agreement of the Queensland businessman.
Writing in the paper today, Mr Gray said that the first State Agreement was enacted in 1952.
“The safeguard for the investor is that State Agreements cannot be changed without the consent of both parties — the State and the project proponent-cum-developer,” he said.
“It is a safeguard enshrined in State legislation and would require a bipartisan approach to change or be overruled by new legislation.
“But the benefits only flow mutually when the State Agreement is adhered to in terms of the rules of law — and rules of engagement.”
Mr Gray said that Mr McGowan’s frustration with the Mineralogy State Agreement was understandable.
The agreement underpins CITIC Pacific’s Sino Iron magnetite project south-west of Karratha.
Sino Iron cost more than $10 billion to build and takes low-grade magnetite and transforms it into a valuable high-grade commodity.
“It has been reported that Mineralogy is refusing to allow CITIC Pacific to expand a tailings dam, which is needed to sustain an expanded Sino Iron operation,” Mr Gray said.
“Enabling the mine expansion primarily by increasing the capacity of the project’s tailings dam will require an amendment to the Mineralogy State Agreement.
“This amendment requires parliamentary support.”