Koolan Is­land project to restart

Broome Advertiser - - Front Page - Glenn Cord­ing­ley, Jakeb Wad­dell and Stu­art McKin­non

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.

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