Deadline on Pilbara ore project

February 09, 2006

ANDREW Forrest revealed yesterday that Fortescue Minerals Group was on a 40-day deadline to complete approvals and planning for its $2.4 billion iron ore project in the Pilbara.

Speaking after a sod-turning ceremony at what will become the stockpile for the 45-million-tonnes-a-year export development in Western Australia, Mr Forrest disclosed that at the end of the 40 days - later confirmed to be the second week of March - FMG would be able to hand over to Citibank to complete financing.

"When Citibank arranges access to the funds will be up to them," he said. "It might be weeks or it could be three months."

The ceremony took place less than four days after FMG was granted approval to go on to the site of the stockpile. The facility will be built almost in the shadow of BHP Billiton's Boodarie iron project which was scrapped last year after a write-off of around $2 billion.

Mr Forrest, as ever optimistic, used the ceremony to stress that FMG's rail and port facilities would be available to third parties, unlike those of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which are currently blocked to competitors.