Whyalla-based MP impressed with outback mine

TRIP: Whyalla-based MP Eddie Hughes attends event at Olympic Dam.

TRIP: Whyalla-based MP Eddie Hughes attends event at Olympic Dam.

Giles MP Eddie Hughes visited the giant mining operation at Olympic Dam in the outback last week.

He said his trip had highlighted the increase in jobs in our part of the state with the near-completion of the smelter maintenance campaign.

“The $350 million investment saw an extra 2000 contractors on site at its peak and in the next year 120 permanent jobs will be added,” he said.

“A refinery upgrade is planned for 2019 followed by the refurbishment of the Whenan hoist in 2020 and a new tailings facility in 2021.

“The next stages will also boost jobs in our region and generate work for contractors.

“It is a measure of BHP’s confidence in its South Australian operation that the funding committed to the projects represents the largest investment it has made to date in this state.

“The projects set the stage for a much larger $2.1 billion investment referred to as the Brownfields Expansion which requires board approval.

“The jobs generated comes at a time when we will see the Carrapateena copper project ramp up with more than 500 direct jobs during construction and more than 500 permanent jobs.

“The whole region benefits from these projects especially given the increasing focus on the part of BHP and OZ Minerals to use local businesses.

“The $20 million State Government copper strategy will help underpin further exploration.

“Whyalla remains incredibly well positioned to benefit from additional copper-related investment through third-party harbour access and expansion and, importantly, through a fall in wholesale electricity prices opening new resource-processing opportunities.”

He said the conclusion of negotiations for the final assistance package for steelworks owner GFG Alliance would spur significant investment in Whyalla and job growth.

“In preparation for the growth in jobs, I strongly welcome the move away from a contestable vocational education market on the part of the State Government with a guarantee that 70 percent of places will be assigned to TAFE.

“We need to seriously invest in a strong publicly-owned TAFE that does the heavy lifting and provides pathways for young and mature students to secure employment.”