Steelmaker calls for Premier’s support
Japan’s biggest steelmaker, and a foundation customer and joint venture partner for the original Pilbara iron ore developments in the 1960s and 70s, has written to Colin Barnett to oppose WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ $5-a-tonne tax plan.
Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals managing executive officer Kazuo Tanimizu told the premier his company was watching developments “with utmost concern”.
Mr Tanimizu, who met Mr Barnett in August at Rio Tinto’s 50th anniversary dinner, wrote last month that if Mr Grylls’ proposal was implemented, it would present uncertainty for future investments in WA mining by his or other companies and jeopardise WA iron ore’s global competitiveness. “It could even ultimately affect security of supply of iron ore from WA, which is a concern to us, as our company is also one of the largest buyers of iron ore from WA,” Mr Tanimizu wrote in the letter, obtained by WA Newspapers.
“I understand you have publicly expressed your view against this proposal. I would sincerely appreciate your continued support on this matter.”
Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals’ antecedent companies underpinned the development of the Pilbara’s first iron ore mines by agreeing to long-term supply contracts. The company remains a joint partner with Rio Tinto in the Robe River venture.
Mr Barnett said last week the Government, through Treasurer Mike Nahan, had been negotiating with the companies over the levy, which he described as an “anomaly”. He said the Government was not looking at raising the levy from 25¢ a tonne to $5, but other possibilities, including the payments’ timing and a lump sum to remove it from the State Agreements, were being considered.