Koolan Island project to restart
Community and business leaders in the Kimberley have welcomed the announcement to next year restart mining operations at Koolan Island, about 130km north of Derby.
Mt Gibson Iron’s decision to spend $100 million rebuilding the project looks set to pay off in spades and potentially bolster the economies of Derby and Broome by recruiting local people.
The Chinese-controlled company decided to rebuild the operation last year after the seawall separating the mine from the ocean collapsed in 2014, flooding its main pit.
Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Peter Taylor said Mt Gibson had demonstrated “great tenacity, persistence and ingenuity” in rebuilding the seawall.
“This has the potential to greatly benefit the West Kimberley economy and job opportunities in the region,” he said.
Mr Taylor said Broome and Derby had a large skill base of people with good experience in the mining industry.
Sheffield Resources intends to start extracting mineral sands from its onshore Thunderbird venture between Broome and Derby, and has pledged to employ local people as part of the operation.
Mr Taylor said he hoped Mt Gibson would adopt the same policy and “have a high focus on engaging local businesses and employees to the maximum extent possible”.
Mt Gibson expects to start recruiting the 330 workers it needs to operate Koolan in the September quarter.
Shire of Derby-West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said the project would benefit local workers and have a positive impact on the economy.
“From my understanding, Mt Gibson Iron will recruit as many workers from Derby and the wider Kimberley as possible, which is a great and exciting boost to the region,” he said. “Many Derby businesses have already been offering labour to Mt Gibson, who have been fantastic in supporting the town and surrounding areas.
“This project will provide a number of opportunities and give some stability back to local businesses.”
Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said he was hopeful that Mt Gibson would continue to prioritise local employment, rather than out of town jobs, as the company had done previously.
Derby Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Paul Bickerton said the Chamber welcomed the announcement and looked forward to engaging with Mt Gibson in supporting local business and personnel involved in the project.
Mt Gibson last week upgraded its high-grade resource at Koolan 64 per cent to 21Mt at 65.5 per cent iron, extending its mine life from 3.5 years to five years and improving its economics.
Mt Gibson Iron had to rebuild the seawall at its Koolan Island project in the Kimberley after the main pit was flooded.