Legislation allowing the sale of the Utah Point Bulk Handling Facility - located in the world's biggest iron ore export port - has been passed last night by State Parliament.
Treasurer Mike Nahan said the Pilbara Port Assets (Disposal) Bill 2015 provided the legal framework for the Liberal National Government's plans to transition the Utah Point facility, in Port Hedland, to the private sector via a long-term lease.
"The passage of this Bill enshrines in legislation the key elements necessary for the divestment of Utah Point," Dr Nahan said.
"This is another important milestone in the Government's asset sales program, which is aimed at improving the State's fiscal position and increasing international competitiveness."
The Treasurer said asset sales completed by the Liberal National Government to date totalled $2.2 billion.
Dr Nahan said the views of stakeholders, including the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies and junior miners as the key users of the facility, were considered extensively during committee proceedings through the parliamentary process.
"The State Government has responded to key findings and recommendations made by the Legislative Council's Legislation Committee by amending the Bill to improve access protection for junior miners and agreeing to changes to the facility's access and pricing regime," he said.
"We understand the concerns of the users of the facility and they have been taken into account in drafting an amendment to the Bill, which imposes a restriction on the operation of the facility in favour of ensuring a minimum level of available access capacity to junior miners.
"This additional protection is an appropriate balance between protecting access for juniors while still allowing others to take up capacity if no juniors are able to - but only in those circumstances."
The Treasurer said the changes introduced to the pricing regime were consistent with the recommendations of both the Legislation Committee and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with a 'negotiate/arbitrate' model now adopted for pricing as well as access. The detail of the regime would be contained in regulations, as it was not practical for it to be incorporated in the Bill.
"Given the timeframe of the proposed lease and the potential for circumstances to evolve over that period, it is important for the Government to retain the ability to refine the regime to meet the changing needs of the lessee and users," he said.
Under the amended regime, price will be directly negotiated between the future Utah Point lessee and users seeking access to capacity, with binding arbitration if agreement cannot be reached by the parties.
Bidders will be required to base their prices on the access and pricing regime and any associated constraints. From a user perspective, the legislation sets out a clear mechanism to promote fairness in access and pricing.
The transaction phase of the proposed sale of Utah Point will start after the March 2017 election.
Utah Point is located in the world's biggest iron ore export port and is a multi-user berth currently owned by the Pilbara Ports Authority
Opened in 2010, the facility comprises a berth that is 272 metres in length and has a harbour depth of 14.5 metres; a shiploader with a peak load rate of 7,500 tonnes per hour; two stockyard product storage facilities; reclaiming and conveying equipment; and other supporting infrastructure
Treasurer's office - 6552 5700