FIFO camp renewals to meet opposition in WA

Pilbara MP Brendan Grylls has declared plans to oppose the renewal of FIFO leases around Karratha and Newman.

Grylls said he will fight the renewal of FIFO camp leases at Woodside’s Gap Ridge camp and BHP’s Kurra Village outside Newman, the West Australian reported.

“Companies have run out of reasons for a FIFO workforce,” he said.

“There's an opportunity for the Pilbara to almost cash in on the cycle and that is with the construction phase coming to an end, for more and more of the workforce to transition into normal residential arrangements.”

Grylls said Woodside had a need for FIFO workers while in the construction phase of the Pluto LNG Project, but that would change with the transition to operation and an operational workforce, which could be locally hired.

The lease for the 2000-bed Gap Ridge camp will expire in 2017, which has given Grylls resolve to contest the 2017 election with an agenda to develop the city of Karratha.

“Certainly, I look forward to taking policies to the next election that look like we are trying to build a Karratha city of 50,000 – we've got 25,000 now – and you don't increase the residential population of the city by constantly approving extended leases on camps,” he said.

The lease on the 1100-bed Kurra Village is due to expire at the end of 2015, and BHP sought state approval to extend the lease by up to 20 years.

BHP said the company had spent $43 million on its Newman residential portfolio, and owned more than 1000 residences in the town.

The WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy released a Resource Sector Outlook for 2015-2020 which predicted that by 2020 the number of construction workers will drop by 17,300 below 2014 levels, many of which will be coming out of the Pilbara region as major expansion projects finish.

However, the proportion of FIFO workers needed is expected to increase from 60 per cent of the workforce to 63 per cent by 2020, although that is unlikely to result from a real increase in the number of FIFO workers.

Operational workforces are expected to grow by 4300 new workers by 2019, to be followed by 800 redundancies by 2020.

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