Shire wants to keep it local

THE Shire of Coolgardie is hoping to draw up an agreement that can stop many of the financial spin-offs from large industrial projects within its boundaries from leaving the area.

Kambalda is currently subject to an influx of nickel and gold mining operations, due largely to the sale by WMC of many of its nickel mines and assets early last year.

Coolgardie chief executive officer Mal Osbourne estimated that, since WMC pulled out, mining operations around the shire had doubled from about 15 to almost 30.

Late last year South African gold miner Goldfields announced it would spend $125 million building a gold plant at its mammoth St Ives gold mine, about 20 kilometres from Kambalda.

However, Mr Osbourne said some of the flow-on money from mining projects was being spent in Peth or Kalgoorlie, rather than locally.

The proposed local agreement would seek a commitment from mining companies to utilise local businesses and services where possible, before they commenced mining.

“Whether they are a junior or not, it is when we get a notice of intent and we would like to be able to go back to those companies and say: ‘Look, we are supportive of your operations within our community, but we would like to talk more about how our community can benefit from your presence’.

“Now that doesn’t mean an open cheque book but I guess it us making sure we provide them with a list of all our businesses and services.

“In the case of Coolgardie and Kambalda, there are a lot of activities that occur here, however a lot of the spin-off is enjoyed by Kalgoorlie

“Now that may not change overnight, but we would like to think that the mining industry might make some commitments to utilise local businesses ... maybe even have a regional office based here.”

Coolgardie is hoping to gain regional support for the agreement when it is presented to a number of local authorities at a meeting in March.

Kalgoorlie Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Ian Gallagher welcomed the move.

He said similar arrangements further north between local governments and bigger iron ore miners were more common than with the gold and nickel miners in the Goldfields

“I think it is terrific that they are actually doing this,” Mr Gallagher said.

“It is the mining companies saying: ‘We understand that while we are there let’s talk about what the local community actually needs’.

“And that is very refreshing and is something, historically, that has not happened.”

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