Delay to mine camp closure
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.