Salt plans put pep in town’s fu­ture

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr and Peter Klinger

Onslow busi­nesses and res­i­dents have rea­son to smile, with an­other ma­jor in­ter­na­tional re­sources com­pany pitch­ing a po­ten­tial move into town.

The op­ti­mism is down to Ger­man salt gi­ant K+S, which un­veiled plans last week for a $350 mil­lion op­er­a­tion near Onslow to sup­ply Asian mar­kets with 3.5 mil­lion tonnes of the com­mod­ity an­nu­ally.

Shire of As­bur­ton pres­i­dent Kerry White said she was cau­tiously ex­cited about the po­ten­tial of K+S es­tab­lish­ing a new so­lar salt op­er­a­tion near Onslow.

“It will cer­tainly be good news for the Onslow econ­omy, but we ap­pre­ci­ate that the project is still in its very early stages of as­sess­ment and ap­provals,” she said.

“We would en­cour­age K+S to con­sult with the com­mu­nity and busi­nesses of Onslow as soon as it can, and to build their em­ployee homes in our town.

“This will strengthen the lo­cal com­mu­nity and its econ­omy and ... it is bet­ter for the well­be­ing of work­ers and their fam­i­lies to be a wel­come and im­por­tant part of our Onslow com­mu­nity.”

Al­though K+S stressed the de­vel­op­ment process was in its early stages, with a fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion not ex­pected un­til 2019, the com­pany said it was at­tracted to WA be­cause of the re­gion’s salt pro­duc­tion po­ten­tial and prox­im­ity to key Asian growth mar­kets.

North West Cen­tral MLA Vince Cata­nia said it was “fan­tas­tic” to have an­other op­por­tu­nity to de­velop a salt op­er­a­tion near Onslow.

“This gives an op­por­tu­nity for Onslow to have a per­ma­nent work­force of em­ploy­ees live in the town and cre­at­ing not a new in­dus­try, but an­other in­dus­try,” he said.

“That’s go­ing to help ... (turn) Onslow into a town that’s size­able and has the ameni­ties to be able to cater for dif­fer­ent types of in­dus­try.”

The Ash­bur­ton Salt project could cre­ate 75 full-time lo­cally based jobs.

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