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MELBOURNE, Feb 11 AAP

February 11 2013, 12:26AM

Rio Tinto has welcomed a tribunal ruling blocking access to the global miner's main Pilbara train lines by other companies.

Rio released a statement on Monday saying that the Australian Competition Tribunal had ruled that it did not have to open up its key Hamersley and Robe rail lines to other miners wanting to transport iron ore.

Fortescue Metals, Australia's third largest iron ore miner, built its own multi-billion-dollar rail line but has long been fighting giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for access to their lines.

Fortescue won a High Court case last September ordering the tribunal to review access for third parties.

The prohibitive costs of building infrastructure prevents smaller iron ore explorers from becoming successful producers and reinforces the global reach of BHP, Rio and Brazil's Vale which control three-quarters of the two billion tonne a year global iron ore industry.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore acting chief executive Paul Shannon said the decision was great news.

"Rio Tinto runs a highly efficient railway that is fully integrated with our port and mine operations," he said in a statement.

"This would be severely hindered if third parties were allowed to run trains on our rail network, not to mention the knock-on negative effect on the Western Australian and national economies from creating such inefficiencies."