Steel­maker calls for Pre­mier’s sup­port

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Gareth Parker, Daniel Emer­son and Nick But­terly

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.

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