Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart has attacked federal and state governments for inflicting high costs on local miners, which are battling plunging iron ore prices as global supply swells.
Mrs Rinehart, who is building on her father’s iron ore legacy by developing the $10 billion Roy Hill mine in Pilbara, also endorsed expansion strategies by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The major miners have come under fire for flooding iron ore markets and depressing iron ore prices.
“You know if Australia doesn’t export, someone else will,” Mrs Rinehart told Fairfax Media on the sidelines of the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast conference, in Perth, on Wednesday.
Mrs Rinehart, who is estimated by BRW to have a $20 billion fortune, said it was high costs, rather than low iron ore prices that affected her Roy Hill project.
“What affects the project is high costs,” Mrs Rinehart said. “As I have said so many times it is really important government cost burdens are lowered. We have regulations; be it approval processes, be it permits, be it licences, be it the checks that have to go on after those compliances.” She said governments needed to take regulatory costs seriously.
“They have to cut these government cost burdens because our costs are incredible,” Mrs Rinehart said.
Roy Hill Holdings chief executive Barry Fitzgerald told the conference the mining company was subject to significant regulatory burdens.
More than 4000 approvals have been required and environmental compliance was increasing.
The construction is 76 per cent complete and has collided with a halving of the iron ore price, which fell to $US58.32 per tonne overnight Tuesday, the lowest level since daily prices were introduced in May 2009.
Analysts estimate Roy Hill will break even at prices between $US50 per tonne and $US55 per tonne.
Mr Fitzgerald said the mining group was not under any pressure from its financiers to ramp up production more quickly in the face of lower prices.
“Both the shareholders and the financiers would like us very much to complete the project, to commission it and then to ramp up as efficiently and as effectively as we can,” he said.
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