DIDO jobs need road seal plan

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

Back­ers of the Balla Balla in­fra­struc­ture project have given the Pil­bara’s de­ci­sion mak­ers an ul­ti­ma­tum: seal the Kar­ratha to Tom Price road or watch up to 700 res­i­den­tial jobs go beg­ging.

Nearly 200 peo­ple at­tended a Kar­ratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and In­dus­try busi­ness break­fast last week ea­ger to hear an up­date from BBI Group vi­cepres­i­dents An­gela John­son and Pe­ter Jones on what is po­ten­tially the next big project for the Pil­bara.

The pro­po­nents say the rail and port com­po­nents will pro­vide about 215 op­er­a­tional jobs based around three 10-hour shifts, with an in­ten­tion for work­ers to com­mute from the Town of Port Hed­land and City of Kar­ratha.

The mine could pro­vide about 700 jobs but the num­ber of those avail­able to res­i­dents in Kar­ratha, Hed­land and Tom Price de­pends on whether the Kar­ratha to Tom Price road is sealed when the mine be­comes op­er­a­tional, and avail­abil­ity of hous­ing.

Mr Jones said the mine de­sign in­cluded an airstrip, but a sealed road could make it un­nec­es­sary.

“We have done ex­ten­sive work look­ing at bussing work­ers from Kar­ratha to the Pil­bara iron ore project,” he said. “It would take 31⁄2 hours which is rea­son­able, but that is based on driv­ing at 100km/h.”

Mr Jones said Roe­bourne was the pre­ferred op­tion for BBI’s re­gional of­fice while Point Sam­son was mooted as a base for main­te­nance of the port trans-ship­ment op­er­a­tion. WA Na­tion­als have

pro­posed to fund the road seal­ing with pro­ceeds from the sale of Utah Point while La­bor has com­mit­ted $50 mil­lion to seal­ing the next stage.

Lib­eral and Shoot­ers and Fish­ers can­di­dates have both mooted sup­port for seal­ing the road.

Ms John­son said drive-in, drive-out was the right thing to do, but added there needed to be enough skilled work­ers in the re­gion to fill the roles. “There is a trig­ger point for the mine where we will put in an aero­drome if we don’t think we can bring in the work­ers lo­cally,” she said.

“As soon as that aero­drome hap­pens you will not see lo­cal jobs down at the mine.”

City of Kar­ratha chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Adams said the im­por­tance of seal­ing the Kar­ratha to Tom Price road could not be clearer. “If that road is not built this will be a FIFO op­er­a­tion,” he said. “We are do­ing the work so that when those 900 jobs come up we have the houses and land avail­able, that is not avail­able to­day. We have to con­vince the mar­ket that DIDO from Kar­ratha is a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to FIFO.”

Ms John­son said BBI was con­fi­dent of project vi­a­bil­ity, with fi­nanc­ing hope­fully in place in early 2018 and op­er­a­tions in 2021, and de­sire for iron ore, and low cap­i­tal costs for the port and rail were in the project’s favour.

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