hope downs, fortesque, csm and the like

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    From miningnews.net

    "THE long-running Hope Downs iron ore saga took yet another twist today when a Western Australian court upheld an appeal by the $1.5 billion project against industry giant BHP Billiton.

    The court victory by Hope Downs partners Hancock Prospecting and Kumba Resources overturns a September 2002 judgement that blocked the joint venturers from getting access to BHPB's Pilbara railway line.

    Hancock and Kumba want to transport ore from their project on the line, saving themselves around A$300 million in infrastructure costs.

    BHPB – which is in the midst of a $A550 million port and rail expansion to meet surging Asian demand -- had argued that it was not obliged to open up the line to third parties.

    But, according to an ABC news report, the three appeal judges ruled that the railway "cannot be regarded as a private facility and access should be available to a third party".

    The ruling is a slap in the face for BHPB, which insisted that its 1987 Rail Transport Agreement with the WA government did not apply to Hope Downs.

    The original judgement by Justice McKechnie agreed, ruling that BHPB was not obliged to start rail negotiations with Hope Downs until the project started production.

    The appeal judges, however, said that Hope Downs is "sufficiently well advanced" to start negotiations on rail access.

    "Obviously we're disappointed, but we need to look closely at the decision before deciding on any future action," a BHPB spokesman said.

    "Part of that process is to understand what rights of appeal we may have," he added.

    Hope Downs project director Russell Tipper was in transit and unavailable for comment on the decision.

    The court victory comes at an opportune time for the project partners, who are still trying to finance the long-running project.

    The funding initiatives include a proposal by Kumba and Hancock to sell part of their equity to third party investors such as mining companies or trading houses.
    UK-based Anglo American, which yesterday launched a partial takeover offer for Kumba, is seen as a likely investor in the project.

    Hope Downs' latest development plan assumes stand-alone port and rail facilities to cater for 25 million tonnes of annual production.

    Today's court win, however, may allow Kumba and Hancock to dangle a future BHPB transport deal as a sweetener for potential investors.

    Yet a commercial access arrangement won't happen overnight.

    BHPB says it is already bursting at the seams – hence the current expansion that will take rail and port capacity to 100 million tonnes by the middle of next year.

    "If the [rail transport] agreement is to apply to Hope Downs, clearly it will require considerable ongoing commercial negotiations," the spokesman said.

    Dependent on funding, Hope Downs aims to begin production in 2006."

    This is quite amazing. It explains fortesques run today. BHP will fight this decision as they are running to virtual capacity as it is. Any comments

    I hold BHP, CSM (so i have interests either way)

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