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BHP calls for deregulation of Oz ports to ease congestion

BHP calls for deregulation of Oz ports to ease congestion

Melbourne: BHP Billiton Ltd, the world's biggest mining company, has said Australia needs to ease government control over ports and railroads to attract private investment and thereby enable rapid and efficient expansion of capacity, Bloomberg reports.

"Concerns have been raised about the lack of investment in Australia's regulated ports," said Marius Kloppers, ceo of BHP (which is trying to buy rival Rio Tinto Group). "It doesn't matter how much ore we producers dig out of the ground if we can't transport it to our customers." Australia needs to maximize spending on infrastructure to expand more quickly and efficiently, he added.

Bottlenecks at ports in Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, have helped constrain the supply of the fuel to Asian customers, boosting prices to a record and increasing costs for mining companies. BHP is considering spending $85 billion to increase output of commodities to meet demand, led by China.

The two biggest coal-export ports in Australia, Newcastle in New South Wales and Dalrymple Bay in Queensland, have appointed independent coordinators to ease constraints.

Expansion at regulated ports, such as Queensland's Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, takes longer than at unregulated ports, Kloppers said. He pointed out that the recent increasing of capacity by 8m tons a year at Dalrymple had taken five years to achieve, compared to just three years needed to expand unregulated port of Gladstone by 28m tons a year.  [06/06/08]