Miners are failing towns, says Grylls
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.