FMG chief talks up bigger Pilbara
■ A goal for Port Hedland and Karratha to each have a population of 50,000 people by 2035 is not optimistic enough, according to Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Nev Power.
Responding to questions as to whether he supported the Chamber of Minerals and Energies’ stance that the Pilbara needed a “reality check” when it came to population targets, Mr Power said we should be more ambitious.
“We should be setting more ambitious stretch targets to address population and the key to that is getting the right balance between business, government and community contributions to build communities which attract people,” he said.
“Just look at the Mackay area which has 10 times (our population) on the same latitude.”
Mr Power said he believed a residential model where workers in remote mines were driven to site from established towns in the Pilbara could be developed over time to replace the fly-in, fly-out model.
CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith told the Pilbara News recently there was a risk there might not be enough demand for the facilities being built based on current population targets.
Mr Howard-Smith said while new facilities should go ahead, the scale of the projects might not be warranted.
Pilbara MLA Brendon Grylls described Mr Howard-Smiths’ comments as “extremely damaging” to confidence in the region. Labor MLC Stephen Dawson took a less hardline approach, suggesting a “stock take” of Pilbara Cities population targets might be in order.