Min­ers are fail­ing towns, says Grylls

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr and Daniel Emer­son

Rio Tinto has fired back at WA Na­tion­als Leader Bren­don Grylls, who last week ac­cused the iron ore ma­jor and fel­low miner BHP Bil­li­ton of breach­ing their State agree­ments by al­low­ing Pil­bara towns to fall into dis­re­pair.

Mr Grylls told a busi­ness break­fast au­di­ence last week he had read the Par­lia­men­tary speech by for­mer Pre­mier Sir Charles Court giv­ing ef­fect to one of the State agree­ments, which spoke of both “ben­e­fits and obli­ga­tions” by the com­pany.

“I don’t be­lieve the com­pa­nies have ac­tu­ally met their obli­ga­tions set down by Sir Charles Court to build the towns, and they cer­tainly haven’t main­tained the towns, oth­er­wise there wouldn’t have been a job for the Na­tion­als’ Roy­al­ties for Re­gions to do,” he said.

“Given that Sir Charles Court en­vis­aged an iron ore sec­tor of 500 mil­lion tonnes a year, (and) with a mas­sive growth to 600 mil­lion tonnes a year now un­der the State Agree­ments, you would have thought that the terms of those orig­i­nal agree­ments would re­quire on­go­ing in­vest­ment into those towns so that those towns were ex­cit­ing, vi­brant hubs of ac­tiv­ity in the north, rather than how we found them in 2007 — tired. Old. No ar­chi­tec­ture. Noth­ing.”

Rio Tinto was quick to re­spond, not­ing the com­pany had con­trib­uted more than $265 mil­lion to Pil­bara in­fra­struc­ture and ac­com­mo­da­tion in the past decade.

A Rio Tinto spokesman ac­cused Mr Grylls of try­ing to re­write his­tory. “Rio Tinto has been in­vest­ing heav­ily in our Western Australian com­mu­ni­ties for the past 50 years, pro­vid­ing much needed in­fra­struc­ture and cre­at­ing jobs,” he said.

“It’s very dis­ap­point­ing that the WA Na­tion­als are at­tempt­ing to re­write his­tory to jus­tify a new tax that would de­stroy jobs, hurt lo­cal busi­nesses and un­der­mine Western Aus­tralia’s global com­pet­i­tive­ness.

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