Projects, jobs in pipeline

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Sheffield Resources' Thunderbird mineral sands project would be at a site on the Dampier Peninsula, between Derby and Broome
Camera IconSheffield Resources' Thunderbird mineral sands project would be at a site on the Dampier Peninsula, between Derby and Broome Credit: Jakeb Waddell

Several multimillion-dollar projects lining up in the Kimberley are set to generate hundreds of new jobs and bolster flat economies in Broome and Derby.

The pipeline of prosperity is almost ready to flow after months and, in some cases, years of planning and consultations, and includes major road improvements and capital works. A proposal by Sheffield Resources to mine mineral sands between Broome and Derby is at the front of the queue with a promise the operation will generate up to 280 regional jobs instead of hiring fly-in, fly-out workers.

The construction phase alone would require about 220 local contractors using locally sourced products to build a workers camp and site offices. Barges would move zircon out of Derby and load it onto bigger ships, while bagged product would be shipped out of Broome in hundreds of sea containers every month.

Sheffield has based its pitch to the people on working in partnership with the community and includes building to 40 per cent Aboriginal employment by year eight.

The Thunderbird project has a 42-year life expectancy and is pending conclusion of a native title process.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peter Taylor said it could not come quickly enough for people wanting long-term secure jobs and local contractors and suppliers seeking local work.

“Sheffield’s exports would require container loading/unloading facilities in Broome, which could open the door to exports of boxed beef and horticultural products from the region,” he said.

While Sheffield stands project-ready with secured overseas buyers, some other multimillion-dollar projects are in the pipeline with flow-on benefits to local towns and communities.

These include the long-awaited $10 million Chinatown revitalisation, due to be rolled out in 2018; the State Government’s $7 million dredging of the Broome port, giving cruise ships 24/7 all-tide access to the jetty; and Mt Gibson recruiting about 330 staff for ore mining on Koolan Island, 130km north of Derby.

Work has finally begun on bitumenising the final 92km unsealed section of the Broome to Cape Leveque road running through the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome.

Mr Taylor said he expected when complete it would expand tourism opportunities and help spawn and expand existing and new industries such as aquaculture and guided indigenous tours.

He said a successful trial of international flights from Broome to Singapore later this month would likely lead to a regular passenger service from town to the Lion City.

“This pipeline of projects will inject millions of dollars into local economies and provide many long-term jobs,” Mr Taylor said.

“Hopefully, this will instil some confidence in Broome and the West Kimberley as the projected economic activity is overdue and very welcome after many quiet years.”

Broome-based Real Estate Institute of WA Kimberley chairman Tony Hutchinson said new jobs in the Kimberley would have a huge impact on the enthusiasm of business owners and investors.

“The reality is that the population will move to wherever the work is available,” he said.

“Although rents have firmed in recent months, present rental levels are not attractive to investors as costs are very high to maintain property in the Kimberley area.

“There should be greater tax incentives for people to live and work in the Kimberley region.”

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