Dubbo bids for $20 million mining school

The New South Wales city of Dubbo has made an initial bid for a mining school in the area.

The Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices would ultimately be a $20 million investment and the city’s initial $7 million bid has already been lodged with the federal government, according to the Daily Liberal.

The Centre would use virtual technology to train students and John Walkom, chairman of the Orana regional Development Australia branch said the city would be an ideal location.

“If you put a pin in Dubbo and draw a circle with a three-and-half-hour radius around it we cover pretty much 90 per cent of the all the hard and soft rock mining activities that take place in NSW,” he told the Liberal.

“So that in itself makes Dubbo a great place (for the facility). All the roads lead here and we have great air transport.”

The centre would be part of the mining engineering department of the University of NSW.

Head of the department, Professor Bruce Hebblewhite first suggested Dubbo as a location for the mining centre last year.

The benefits of the centre would not be exclusive to the mining industry, Walkom said.

“So it’s a new industry but it’s also potentially opening up new businesses not just for sustainable mining,” Mr Walkom said.

The proposal for the Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices was lodged by the Orana Education and Training Co-operative – a not-for-profit group that has been operating in western NSW for 20 years.

The Centre would provide a boost to the employment, economy and infrastructure in the region, Walkom said.

He wants to “upskill locals so we don’t lose our youth from the region.”

“We need to create the economic demand because that will grow our communities and then we have to have that hard and soft infrastructure built,” Walkom said.

The proposal has been lodged with the $1 billion Regional Development Australia Fund which is offering $100 million in the first round but $573 million of the fund is dependent on the passing of the mining tax.

Last month campaigners for a Dubbo-based interstate air service said they have the backing of a national airline to run the flight operations to handle fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the region.

The transition into mining is part of the Dubbo City Council’s plan to create a ‘mining cluster’ in the city’s industrial area, where a coal seam gas company and heavy steel fabrication firm have already set up.

The company that provided scaffolding, fencing, temporary toilets and buildings for the construction phase of the nearby North Parkes Mine and Peak Mine will join them in the industrial area shortly.

The Daily Liberal reports that an economic development report released last year showed Dubbo’s reliance on mining is lower than the overall Orana region, but found there are “potential opportunities” in the city.

“Supply chain businesses (likely) to operate out of Dubbo in the future,” the report said.

According to the report the value of one mining job to the Dubbo economy was $473,424, a figure higher than any other job type.

Yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Alkane Resources and a leading chemical company.

Alkine Resources owns the Dubbo Zirconia Project and said the MoU was a “key milestone” in the development of the mine which could produce up to $70 million per year and is believed to be one of the largest deposits of the mineral in the world.

Image: Dubbo City Council

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