De­lay to mine camp clo­sure

Pilbara News - - News - Rebecca Par­ish and Cally Dupe

Min­ing giant BHP Bil­li­ton has bro­ken its prom­ise to re­lo­cate residents from its con­tentious Kurra Vil­lage Min­ing Camp in New­man by the end of Septem­ber, say­ing the tran­si­tion will con­tinue over the com­ing months.

BHP would not com­ment on how many staff had so far been moved from the camp but a spokes­woman said the com­pany had started the tran­si­tion of the first group of New­man Joint Ven­ture em­ploy­ees to the New­man flats.

The de­ci­sion to va­cate Kurra was made at the end of July after in­com­ing as­set pres­i­dent Edgar Basto’s state­ment to staff, which said the camp would be closed and the move would be­gin in mid-to­late Au­gust.

At the time of the de­ci­sion, Pil­bara MP Bren­don Grylls la­belled it a “big win” for the com­mu­nity.

How­ever, he did not com­ment this week, with the Na­tion­als in­stead pro­vid­ing a state­ment to the North West Tele­graph from Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion mem­ber Jac­qui Boy­dell.

She said the sooner work­ers were re­lo­cated out of Kurra Vil­lage, the sooner the ben­e­fits could flow for re­gional busi­nesses, the lo­cal shire and the com­mu­nity.

“While this is largely a mat­ter for BHP Bil­li­ton, the sooner work­ers are re­lo­cated out of the Kurra camp the sooner the ben­e­fits can flow for re­gional busi­nesses, the lo­cal shire and the com­mu­nity,” Ms Boy­dell said.

“Ear­lier this year . . . BHP made the de­ci­sion to dump the camp, after The Na­tion­als took the de­ci­sion not to ex­tend the Kurra Vil­lage lease. This was based on our po­si­tion that min­ing com­pa­nies should, where pos­si­ble, in­te­grate worker ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“If the de­ci­sion to move work­ers out of Kurra was based on com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions and the best out­come for em­ploy­ees as BHP stated ear­lier this year, then it would be in the in­ter­ests of BHP to act sooner rather than later.”

BHP Jim­ble­bar gen­eral man­ager An­drew Buck­ley said aside from about 160 work­ers who would stay at New­man’s Eco Vil­lage and com­pany-owned flats, the clo­sure of the 1600-bed Kurra would see most of its oc­cu­pants housed out of town.

“While the head­line might look fan­tas­tic, the re­al­ity (of clos­ing Kurra) is not ac­tu­ally the best out­come (for New­man). (It is) com­mer­cially great (for BHP) but not great in terms of peo­ple be­ing in town and spend­ing money,” he said.

Mr Buck­ley said BHP would have spent $5 mil­lion to $7 mil­lion up­grad­ing Kurra if the lease had been re­newed.

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