Mitsubishi Corporation which has 100% share of the OPR development and the associated Crossland Resources has cut around 65% of the OPR project workforce because of current economic conditions and the lack of progress in securing equity partners to advance the project.

In more positive news, infrastructure owner Brookfield Rail has announced that work on upgrading the 1067mm-gauge former grain branch between Morawa and Geraldton line has been completed, linking a number of ore deposits already in production with the existing rail-served port at Geraldton.

The two-year $A 550m MidWest Rail Upgrade has raised capacity on the line from 3 million tonnes per year to 27.5 million tonnes and included 185km of new track and realignment, in addition to the laying of gauge convertible concrete sleepers for much of its length.

"We have delivered infrastructure that will allow future development and growth which through staged incremental investment can grow to 75 million tonnes per year," says Mr Paul Larsen, CEO of Brookfield Rail.