It was a battle that pitted the world's second-biggest miner against WA's third-richest person, Len Buckeridge.
Rio Tinto's salt arm yesterday put an end to the stoush, by announcing it had shipped its first load of gypsum from its revived Lake MacLeod operations, to a Queensland customer.
The 44,000-tonne consignment of the key ingredient used in plasterboard, ends Mr Buckeridge's attempts to get his hands on the gypsum supply 60km north of Carnarvon.
Last year the tycoon, who is worth an estimated $2.4 billion and runs an integrated industrial empire that is one of the biggest home builders in Australia, lobbied the State Government to hand him Rio's then mothballed site.
In 2009 Rio shut its Lake MacLeod gypsum operation - a by-product of its bigger salt plant - because it was not viable during the financial crisis. But booming demand in Asia and Mr Buckeridge's approach, caused a rethink.
Dampier Salt managing director Simon Trott said the shipment went last week. He said its sites at Dampier and Port Hedland did not have a gypsum deposit like Lake MacLeod's and there were no plans for them to support the gypsum market.Mr Buckeridge's company supplies about 7 per cent of the subdued Eastern States plasterboard market and more than half of WA's needs. CSR is also a big producer.
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