Fortescue first tried to gain access to BHP's Mount Newman line in June 2004, when the Trade Practices Act declared such arrangements open for negotiation.

However in May 2010 Australia's Competition Tribunal ruled against allowing the company to negotiate limited access to Rio Tinto's Robe River and Hamersley lines on the grounds that it would be "contrary to the public interest".

In addition to the Rio Tinto lines, the latest ruling means Fortescue will be able to resume negotiations with BHP Billiton for access to the Goldsworthy and Mount Newman lines, although the process is likely to undergo further legal scrutiny before access arrangements are finalised.