High Court rules Fortescue can use BHP, Rio Tinto's rail lines

The High Court has ruled in favour of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) in its battle over access to rail lines in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

The company approached the court against an Australian Competition Tribunal's review of a decision by treasurer Wayne Swan over access to four rail lines in the ore-rich Pilbara region, including BHP's Goldsworthy and Mount Newman lines and Rio Tinto's Hamersley and Robe lines.

Swan declared all except the Mount Newman line should be available to FMG's companies for 20 years, but that was changed by the tribunal following an appeal which dropped the Hamersley line and reduced the availability of the Robe line to 10 years.

The High Court held that the review was not legal.

The court ruling now gives Fortescue the grounds to take up the matter with the tribunal again.

According to Association of Mining and Exploration Companies spokesman Graham Short there was still way to go before a final decision on who else could use the lines was reached.