Brunker not worried as Rio walks
WHITSUNDAY Mayor Mike Brunker is confident the $6.2 billion Abbot Point Coal Terminal expansion will go ahead, even though mining giant Rio Tinto has withdrawn from the deal.
A Rio Tinto spokesman said economic uncertainty and proposal elements were to blame for the company's decision.
"Rio Tinto withdrew from the current process for the potential development of additional port capacity at Abbot Point, due to changes in the economic environment and the commitments required to progress the option," the spokesman said.
"Global economic markets have shifted to a period of significant uncertainty and we continue to see both a sustained upward pressure on costs and long timeframes for regulatory approvals."
He said future involvement with the Abbot Point Coal Terminal expansion could be a possibility.
"Rio Tinto would welcome the opportunity to participate in further discussions should key elements of the Abbot Point proposal be revised in the future, such as the development model and scope of commitment required. Rio Tinto's focus at present is evaluating potential alternatives to Abbot Point for additional port capacity."
Mr Brunker said it was "no major drama" that the company would not be involved in the deal anymore.
"It's cutting the weak from the strong," Cr Brunker said.
"I don't think it's anything to panic about.
"A lot of companies wanted to produce coal out of there."
Member for Dawson George Christensen warned that other companies could follow Rio Tinto.
"There's speculation BHP Billiton could be jittery on it (the expansion) as well," Mr Christensen said.
"Rio Tinto pulling out of the deal is a blow for project. One thing Rio Tinto cited was regulatory approvals. Those approvals have been with the Federal Government since December 2010 until now. If it (approval times) go on too long it will kill it."
On March 13 the Daily Mercury reported the expansion approval deadline would be delayed until December, 2012
Initial respondents for the project were Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Adani and Hancock Coal
Stage one of the expansion is likely to have four berths and a tug facility; stage two could include eight more berths