Karratha - Tom Price Road on a tight timeline

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
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Karratha to Tom Price Road.
Camera IconKarratha to Tom Price Road. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

The State Government is walking a tight timeline to seal the Karratha to Tom Price Road, with any delays now likely to put 700 local drive-in, drive-out jobs from the proposed Flinders mine site at risk.

City of Karratha chief executive Chris Adams did not mince his words at last week’s council meeting, stating if the next stage of planning works did not begin this week, the road may not be finished in time for BBI Group to consider a DIDO workforce.

Mr Adams said further pressure points would come in October when approvals needed to be in place, and in April when construction would have to begin.

Adding further complication is confirmation from Main Roads WA it has recently been made aware of the presence of asbestos on the road.

A Main Roads WA spokeswoman said Main Roads was assisting the Shire of Ashburton with development of an asbestos management plan to arrange removal of the material.

The spokeswoman did not answer if or how this would impact the budget or timeline of the project.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the next step would be to gain approvals from the Yindjibarndi people, on whose land the road sits, environmental approvals, and land tenure process.

“The design and the clearances information acquired at the initial planning stages are currently being reviewed to ensure that the design complies with standards and legislative clearance requirements ... currently, we have a 15 per cent concept design for stages three and four,” she said.

The next stage of planning works is expected to cost about $800,000 and includes geotech, hydrology and heritage surveys.

The City of Karratha and Shire of Ashburton have both agreed to chip in funds for this work to get the road seal rolling.

City of Karratha councillors voted nine-two in favour of allocating $200,000 to the planning works at last week’s meeting.

Cr Fiona White-Hartig voted against the motion, stating the road was not in the City’s boundary and the road seal was based on the hope BBIG would employ a DIDO workforce.

BBIG has already promised 215 Balla Balla port and rail jobs will be based in the City of Karratha and the Town of Port Hedland.

Current plans have an aerodrome going into the Flinders mine site for a fly-in, fly-out workforce, but BBIG executives have stated if the Karratha to Tom Price Road is sealed in time, 700 operational jobs could be based in Karratha and Tom Price on a DIDO roster instead.

Shire of Ashburton president Kerry White said the sealing of the northern section of road would have a positive impact for tourism to Millstream-Chichester National Park.

Ms White said with the southern stretch remaining unsealed however, lack of appropriate access was a factor for BBIG when considering opportunities for Tom Price.

“Though geographically closer, the unsealed road from the mine site to Tom Price will always be a consideration,” she said.

“The Council has met with the proponents of the BBIG rail and port facility and PIOP mine on numerous occasions and continues to advocate for local procurement and a non FIFO workforce.

“A business education seminar is also being facilitated, to be held in Tom Price on the evening of June 20 in conjunction with BBIG, Flinders Ltd and local organisers Nintirri.”

Modelling prepared by the Pilbara Development Commission estimates a DIDO workforce from the Flinders mine would inject more than $1.6 billion into the Pilbara economy and create almost 500 additional jobs.

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