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Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Page: 232


Senator Mark Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, upon notice, on 6 December 2004:

(1)   Is the Minister aware of an investigation by the Western Australian Parliament’s Economics and Industry Standing Committee into the closure of the Windimurra vanadium mine by Xstrata Plc which is a subsidiary of Glencore International AG; if so, to what extent, if at all, did the Minister’s department monitor or participate in that inquiry.

(2)   Is the Minister aware of the reported takeover of WMC Resources Ltd by Xstrata Plc and of the likely involvement of the Foreign Investment Review Board; if so, is it likely that the department’s views will be sought on the application both with respect to policy on the investment in the Australian mining industry, and on the corporate behaviour of Xstrata Plc in the closure of the Windimurra mine.

(3)   Is the Minister aware that significant costs and losses have been incurred by other investors including the Western Australian Government through the closure of the Windimurra mine.

(4)   Is the Minister aware of allegations that the closure of the Windimurra mine and the removal and sale of processing equipment at the site has effectively removed any possibility that the mine will ever reopen.

(5)   Is the Minister aware of allegations that the closure of the Windimurra mine was intended to protect the profitability of another mine owned by the company in South Africa, and that the decision was justified by false and misleading information about the commercial prospects of the Windimurra mine.

(6)   Given the controversy about the corporate behaviour of Xstrata Plc and the closure of the Windimurra mine, will the Minister take an active interest in the proposed takeover of WMC Resources Ltd to ensure that Australian mining interests and the interests of Western Australia are protected.


Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   I am aware of the inquiry by the Western Australian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Economics and Industry into Vanadium Resources at Windimurra. My Department has been monitoring developments in that process and has provided me with briefing on the report that the committee tabled in November.

(2)   I am aware of moves by Xstrata to initiate a takeover of WMC. Should such a takeover eventuate, approval from the Treasurer will be required under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. It is likely that comment will be sought from my Department regarding investment policy, the resources sector and Xstrata’s recent activities, including events related to the closure of the Windimurra project.

(3)   My Department has briefed me on the losses suffered by various stakeholders due to Xstrata’s decision to close the project, with specific reference to the WA Government’s investment in infrastructure. These are matters that the WA Parliamentary inquiry covered in some detail.

(4)   These allegations are a matter of public record.

(5)   These allegations are also matters of public record that have been addressed in the Standing Committee’s work.

(6)   I can assure Senator Bishop that this is a matter which my Department and I are monitoring. The Foreign Investment Review Board and its processes are specifically directed at ensuring foreign takeovers are not contrary to the national interest.