Oakajee. I know. I hear you, not Oakajee again. Sorry, but something has to be said after all the alternate plans being floated in recent weeks.
Like Will Smith in Independence Day and his cigar that can only be smoked after victoriously defeating an alien enemy, I reckon Oakajee Port and Rail boss John Langoulant has set aside a big Cohiba cigar and is looking forward to the day when he can stare out at a new port and strike the match.
Because right now he is being circled by aliens. Not the extraterrestrial kind, but people that are alien to the existing ready-to-go structure and to the reality of what it will take to get Oakajee, which has been going on and on for some 25- odd years now, to become a reality.
Coming in from one planet is George Jones, chairman of Gindalbie Metals, which has Karara — a bloody big iron ore mine, nearly in production, and a proposed foundation customer of Oakajee.
Now of course George wants to dig up large chunks of Morawa as quickly as he can and ship if off to China as fast as possible — understandable, and the fact he is limited by Geraldton’s hopelessly inadequate port must be driving him to distraction.
It is also no secret that George is no great admirer of John’s and says his plan B or “southern solution” is the only thing that will make Oakajee a reality.
It is important to point out that Anshan Steel Corporation, 50 per cent partner in Karara, is one member of the consortia currently in discussions with OPR owner Mitsubishi Corporation, to get Oakajee moving.
So George has a bit of an inside track — but whether that adds any meat to George’s utterings of an alternative is yet to be revealed — we’ve been told to wait until September — no idea why.
One has to ask, how is George going to raise a few more billion for Karara and a few more billion for Oakajee? Is there gold out there too?
Approaching from another direction this week is Padbury Mining boss Gary Stokes. Padbury bought some old Oakajee IP from Yilgarn Infrastructure, the China-backed group that lost the right to build Oakajee to OPR in 2008.
They have a new plan, and a new name — Midwest Rail and Port, which apparently would take in George’s plan and include a northern rail line as well.
The plot thickens.
Padbury are bold, they put out a document this week stating “Padbury is proposing to sell its IP to the sponsors of Midwest Rail and Port to fast-track the establishment of the company as a credible infrastructure provider . . . and signal to the WA Government that a total solution can be delivered as an alternative to the failed OPR/ Mitsubishi bid.”
Interesting. The question remains, how? Where is the money coming from and how will they get hold of OPR’s more updated IP, EPA approvals and other bits?
“OPR will be invited to participate,” said George with a smirk.
John responded with a beauty of a line, describing George’s ideas as a “thought bubble masquerading as a proposal.” Cracker.
The bottom line is that Mitsubishi, one of the world’s largest companies, is the only entity that has spent more than $200 million dollars developing a feasible, multi-user port and rail infrastructure plan.Who do you believe? Sadly, like most Geraldtonians, we can only really believe anything about Oakajee when we see it under construction. Until then, it is just more wind from the south.
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