The West

Tony Poli has called on the Government to break the deadlock over Anketell Point and hand his Aquila Resources the right to build the first stage of the iron ore port.

His call came after Aquila and joint venture partner ACMI won environmental approval for their 115 million tonne-a-year Anketell plan.

Describing the tick from the Environmental Protection Authority yesterday as "three years of hard work starting to pay off", Mr Poli, Aquila's executive chairman, said it was time to give certainty to potential financiers.

Aquila has been battling to win funding from Chinese backers for the $5.8 billion port and associated iron ore project while the Government stalls on naming a preferred port builder.

Premier Colin Barnett has said he wants to avoid a repeat of the Oakajee port impasse after the Government awarded that Mid West project to a sole entity.

He wants to develop Anketell Point via an independent infrastructure provider with part-investment from Aquila and companies including Fortescue Metals Group so as not to hand a dominant advantage to one player.

But Mr Poli said no other proponent was as advanced as Aquila.

"Our financiers (China Development Bank) are keen to get clarity," Mr Poli told _WestBusiness _.

"How do we break the deadlock?

"It would make sense to award a port proponent with conditions, one being the ability to funding.

"That would make sense (for it to be us) now we have conditional approval from the EPA because no other party has done the work we have done over three years."

Aquila is also battling rising costs at its associated planned west Pilbara mine, with Macquarie Group estimating the entire venture and port could now cost at least $7 billion.

Aquila will need at least $2.5 billion in debt and equity funding.

Mr Poli conceded costs would rise, but that the company was undertaking a review to cut capital costs as much as possible. He hoped to unveil that by September 30.

Aquila wants to use up to 45 million tonnes of Anketell Point's initial capacity and Mr Poli said he would welcome other players including Fortescue to share the costs. But he noted FMG appeared to be "pausing" in its expansion plans beyond Port Hedland.

However, an FMG spokesman said it remained a "key proponent" of Anketell and continued to work with the Government.

The EPA said expansion of Anketell beyond 115 million tonnes to its hoped-for 350 million tonnes would require new approvals.

Mr Barnett was travelling and could not be contacted for comment, but his department said the EPA approval was consistent with a bigger staged facility at Anketell.

The West Australian

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