(Reuters) - Australian iron ore miner Atlas Iron (AGO.AX) on Thursday said the government had notified it that its North West Infrastructure (NWI) joint venture does not have priority rights to develop some shipping berths at a key port in the country.
But it said in a statement that it considered the notice from the nation’s transport minister to be “contrary” to the previous policy of the regional government, adding that it was “considering” its position.
That comes amid a race to take control of the small miner, with Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd group of companies on Wednesday disclosing a 19.96-percent stake in the firm.
Atlas said that the notice regarded the development of Stanley Point Berths 3 and 4 in Port Hedland, a key commodity hub in the resource-rich Pilbara region in the state of Western Australia.
NWI, which is a joint venture with Brockman Mining (0159.HK) and FerrAus, has the capacity to export 50 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore from the South-West Creek located at Port Hedland.
Last week, Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AX said it had built a 19.9-percent interest in Atlas Iron, giving it a large enough stake to block a A$280 million ($212.07 million) takeover of Atlas by Mineral Resources Ltd (MIN.AX).
Shares in Atlas, which were on trading halt pending the above announcement, fell as much as 19.1 percent on resuming trade on Thursday, compared with a slight climb in the broader market . They last stood at under 4 Australian cents.
(This version of the story corrects typographical error in headline)
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford