WA this week – 10 years ago

Estimates of power surplus AT the end of 1999, WA was expected to have about 35 per cent more power generation capacity than it needed to meet demand, according to estimates circulating in senior levels of the State Government, it was revealed this week, ten years ago. The estimated surplus would have major implications for the speed of reform in the electricity industry, reports suggested. Record peak summer demand was then about 2,118 megawatts, but according to government estimates, peak demand in 1999 would probably be between 2,300 and 2,400 megawatts, assuming no new major greenfields mineral processing activity occurred in the south-west of the State. Power failure in the goldfields A power failure in WA’s goldfields region halted production at more than 20 mines in the Goldfields region, when a tornado tore down two steel towers carrying electricity to Kalgoorlie. Most of Western Mining Corporation’s - now WMC Resources - gold and nickel operations in Kalgoorlie and Kambalda were affected, a company spokesman said. WMC expected to lose two days’ worth of gold and nickel production. The mines only had enough power to maintain normal pumping operations and to enable administrative work to continue. However, the company’s Kalgoorlie nickel smelter was not affected, as it had its own power supply. Western Power Corporation responded by building a temporary 1.3km bypass line in order to restore power to the region. FPSO safety review Operational procedures on board Australia’s floating production storage offloading (FPSO) facilities were to be tightened up as a result of a safety investigation. A joint investigation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the WA Department of Minerals and Energy into alleged safety breaches on BHP Petroleum’s FPSO Griffin Venture recommended that regulatory bodies should carry out safety audits of all FPSO operational procedures. The incident which sparked the investigation occurred on board the Griffin Venture about one year earlier, when the facility was located off Onslow. The vessel and its crew of 37 were allegedly placed in jeopardy because tank cleaning operations were being carried out on the vessel in a manner that would cause the atmosphere in the cargo tanks to pass through the explosive range. Westralian Sands Mineral sands miner Westralian Sands embarked on a substantial expansion program, with plans to double its capacity at its core synthetic rutile plant to 230,000 tonnes per year. It also planned to develop a quicklime plant at Dongara, subject to final feasibility. The company had earlier raised $60 million in a two-for-five rights issue at $2.75 per share.

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