Karratha to Tom Price Road seal delayed

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Sealing of the Karratha to Tom Price Road faces months of delays, raising fears hundreds of local jobs at a proposed mine site along the project’s route could go begging.

Online posts through WA Labor’s Pilbara social media pages earlier in the year pegged the start of the project in July, but tenders have not yet been advertised.

Main Roads WA spokesman Dean Roberts said works were now anticipated to begin in October.

“Main Roads is waiting on final approval of environmental management plans prior to any works commencing,” he said.

“Final approval of the environmental management plans for stage 3B works has taken longer than expected. Once approvals are granted, pre-construction activities, including pushing up of natural gravel for road construction, can commence.”

Mr Roberts said tenders could be advertised towards the end of July.

The Balla Balla Infrastructure Group has said sealing the road in a timely manner is critical to ensuring a 700-strong operational workforce for the proposed Flinders Mine can be driven to site from Karratha, rather than using a fly-in, fly-out model.

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said time pressures could lead to BBIG walking away from a drive-in, drive-out workforce. “It is disappointing to have seen an election commitment by the McGowan Labor Government be delayed by potentially a year,” he said.

“This has an effect on the BBIG project where we could see what was meant to be a DIDO workforce now turn into a FIFO workforce.

“The delay, which is potentially only six months, potentially more, could have an effect on the company making a decision which suits their time pressure and also the hip pocket.”

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said he doubted it would put the potential for a DIDO workforce at risk.

“We are pushing hard to get this as fast as we can because we do understand BBI depends on this,” he said.

“I want this road as much as anyone, for me to travel between Karratha and Newman will be shorter.

“There are a lot of benefits from not only BBI, but freight coming in and out of Karratha.”

Sealing of the road was a key election pillar for the Labor Party during the 2017 State Election.

$50 million was committed to seal up to the access road turn off, and funding is being sought from the Federal government for further stages.

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