BHP Billiton’s plans to add an extra 6,000 fly-in-fly-out workers to Port Hedland have some locals concerned the town will be “drowned” with transient workers.
BHP is planning to build a new 60 hectare camp near the existing temporary accommodation facilities around Port Hedland airport.
The camp’s lease will cost up to $31 million for the initial ten year term, and supply workers urgently needed to support the company’s Pilbara expansions.
While the project is yet to be fully approved by BHP, local Labor MP Tom Stephens told The West Australian the influx of workers would put further pressure on the town’s already strained infrastructure.
He also said the development would destroy the town’s ability to have sustainable and orderly growth.
Like several mining towns in Queensland, houses in Port Hedland are among some of the most expensive in rural Australia.
According to a Town of Port Hedland business plan the development is aiming to be completed by 2016/17 to supply workers for BHP’s proposed Outer Harbour project.
“For economic modelling purposes it has been assumed that the initial state of the BHPB facility will house approximately 2,000 construction workers by 2013/14,” it said.
“Additional stages of the facility will be developed over 3-4 years to house a maximum of 6,000 workers.”
“The timing of the development is entirely at the discretion of BHPB and dependent upon BHPB’s construction workforce needs.”
In its report the Town of Port Hedland said it anticipated BHP’s proposal would have “no adverse effect on the current provision of facilities and services” in town.
It said it would use the money paid by BHP to help fund the upgrade of Port Hedland International Airport.