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Road block

Friday, 4th January, 2013

By Erica Visser

Half a million dollars that City Council borrowed to buy land for a proposed heavy vehicle bypass will now sit in the bank as doubts loom over whether the project will go ahead at all.

The Council had successfully lobbied the State and Federal governments for contributions to the $8m road and was due to contribute a further $1m, while mining company Perilya was to contribute $2m.

Perilya planned on using the road to cart ore from its Potosi Mine, which is due to open in March, to its Southern Operations.

Council argued that the contribution to the road would keep trucks off the city’s streets and allow for the long-term planning of projects such as a proposed ring road and an Airport Master Plan.

Alongside the $1m, Council late last year approved a $500,000 loan to be used for land acquisition on the bypass route.

The Chinese-owned Perilya has demanded Council repay almost $7 million in excess rates paid from 2007 to 2010 after it won a Land and Environment Court (LEC) case over its land valuation.

That finding is set to be appealed by the NSW Government.

Council’s General Manager Frank Zaknich said yesterday that the $500,000 loan had been taken out but the money had not been spent.

“These are now carry over funds and are reserved for the purpose for which they are borrowed and invested, pending draw down of the cash and to offset loan repayments,” Mr Zaknich said.

The money is expected to remain in the bank until Council decides whether it will contribute to the haul road.

This will not take place until next financial year, at the earliest, according to Mayor Wincen Cuy.

“We’ll have to go back and look at it, but we won’t be doing that this financial year,” Mayor Cuy said.

“We’ll be going back to the Federal Government, asking for their determination of it.”
It is expected that Perilya will now use an approved route through the city to transfer the ore.

Mayor Cuy said that “everybody would prefer if the road was built”, however Council could not stop the company from driving through the streets.

“Perilya actually have the endorsement to use the already existing heavy vehicle route,” he said. “We can’t go against it.”

Mr Zaknich remained tight-lipped when asked if heavy trucks driving through the city would represent a danger.

“Perilya has an approval, ratified by the NSW Land and Environment Court, to use the designated heavy vehicle route to transport ore from the Potosi mine to Perilya’s southern operations via Argent, Crystal and Gypsum streets. This is the approved transport route at this time.”

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