Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett

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    Mid-West strategic infrastructure study released

    16/08/2000 3:36 PM
     
    16/8/00

    A new minerals report on the infrastructure needed to unlock the resources development potential of the Mid-West region points to the significant potential for further downstream processing.

    Releasing the report today, Resources Development Minister Colin Barnett said it outlined key recommendations of the Mid-West Regional Minerals Study.

    Mr Barnett said the study focused on the potential for the growth of the resources industry in the area and the strategic infrastructure needed to support that growth.

    “The Mid-West has a strong history of mining, extending from 1846 when coal was discovered in the bed of the Irwin River, near Mingenew, to the present day,” he said.

    “Mineral production in the region in 1998-99 was valued at about $1.2 billion.

    “The Mid-West region is prospective for a range of minerals including gold, mineral sands, zinc, copper, nickel, vanadium, oil, iron ore and industrial minerals.

    “This key strategic study sets out the potential for minerals industry growth in the region and the likely requirements for infrastructure.

    “It aims to support the continued growth of the minerals industry by planning infrastructure ahead of demand and providing it when needed.”

    Mr Barnett said the State Government’s intention to support industrial projects in the Mid-West was exemplified by its commitment to providing internationally competitive infrastructure.

    He said the State Government had provided interest free finance to Western Power to help with the commissioning of a 370km gas pipeline from Geraldton into the Mid-West region.

    “The availability of gas to the area will be a huge boost to the regional economy and will inevitability provide the incentive for major resource development into this highly prospective region of the State which the Government is keen to see develop and prosper,” the Minister said.

    “With the extension of the pipeline to Meekatharra it could also see gas eventually replacing existing diesel-fired power stations in nearby towns.

    “The Windimurra vanadium mine and processing plant - Australia’s first vanadium project - was the catalyst for the Mid-West pipeline.”

    Mr Barnett said the Government was progressing the Oakajee Industrial Estate and multi-user deepwater port as part of its policy for encouraging downstream processing industries in the area.

    “The planned industrial estate and multi-user port development will provide a major advantage in attracting new industry to the Mid-West region,” he said.

    “Additional processing industries in the Mid-West will increase regional employment opportunities and generate flow-on benefits to local communities and businesses.”

    Mr Barnett said the study had identified a number of areas where strategic planning, co-ordination of infrastructure and further investigations would benefit the resources industry, including:
    • good transport links throughout the region, particularly east-west roads, which would link the Northern Goldfields to the Mid-West;
    • the importance of the Oakajee industrial estate and port to further facilitate downstream processing and export of products from the region;
    • the continued promotion of competitive energy prices;
    • continued geoscientific work to maintain the region’s attractiveness for investment in exploration; and -
    • investigation of the potential for Geraldton to become a regional service centre.

    The Minister said the study was done in partnership with the Commonwealth and State Governments, and industry, under the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Minerals Program and was jointly funded.

    It was managed by the Department of Resources Development with help from Mr Peter Ellery former Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy.

    “One of the key elements of the program is to identify how governments and industry can best work together to maximise the benefits of the provision of key infrastructure, whether through private or public funding or a mixture of both,” Mr Barnett said.

    The report is also being simultaneously released by Senator Nick Minchin, Minister for Industry, Science and Resources.

    Copies of the report are available from the Department of Resources Development on (08) 9327 5555.


    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699