Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

Proposed 1,500-room mining camp in Goldfields town Kambalda faces community backlash

Kambalda resident Helene Richardson has started a petition to stop the mining camp being built.  (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Robert Koenig-Luck)

A purpose-built mining camp for FIFO workers in the Goldfields town of Kambalda has received unanimous support from the Coolgardie council, but locals fear it could cause the town to "die off".  

At a special council meeting on Tuesday night, all five councillors in attendance voted in favour of sending the proposal through for community consultation. 

However, the plan has already met opposition in the community.   

Kara Janssen has lived in Kambalda since she was five and said she had seen the town change over the years as other fly-in fly-out mining camps were built.  

She said a fourth camp was not what the town needed to survive.

"To be honest the town will die once we become a FIFO town because at the moment, we have no rentals, and no-one is interested in building any more houses for families," she said.  

Local Kara Janssen says Kambalda will die if it becomes a fly-in fly-out town. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance Robert Koenig-Luck)

Coolgardie Shire President Malcolm Cullen said for the shire to maintain and improve services in the community they needed to look at other sources of revenue.   

"The workers accommodation village project provides that, while supporting a key industry for our community," he said.  

Ms Janssen said instead of building more mining camps she would like to see the council invest in fixing the town's roads and building more residential housing.   

"Put stuff here for families to draw them in so we don't die off," she said.

Addressing 'workers accommodation crisis'

Coolgardie Shire chief executive officer James Trail told ABC Goldfields Breakfast there was currently a "workers accommodation crisis" in the region, which the village could help address.   

"In order for the mining sector to keep expanding and for these major projects to go ahead they need workers accommodation," he said. 

"Our shire and council are adamant we prefer residential, but we want the mining sector here because it's the economic injection into the community."  

Many Kambalda locals are concerned about additional mining camps being built in their town. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance Robert Koenig-Luck)

The project has been costed at $164 million and would be constructed in two stages, with phase one to provide between 600 and 800 rooms.

Stage one would also see new road, parking and pedestrian infrastructure built, as well as sewage and water infrastructure and a waste treatment plant.

A kitchen and mess area will be constructed to cater for 800 people, with the facilities expanded in stage two to cater for an additional 900.

Mr Trail said if the development was to proceed it would be fully funded by external sources.

The accommodation village is expected to be built in Kambalda West on the site of the town's former golf course.

The 1,500-room development is planned to be built on the former Kambalda golf course. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance Robert Koenig-Luck)

Mr Trail said the site was chosen due to its proximity to the town centre while also having a minimal impact on the community.   

He said the former golf course was the most appropriate location for the development, with the village using 20 per cent of the 90-hectare site, and being located a five-minute walk to the town centre. 

"It was a balance between integrating members of the village into town, but also keeping it a reasonable distance because of the size of it," he said.  

Community concerns

Kambalda resident Helene Richardson lives close to the golf course and has started a petition to stop the 1,500-room development, saying it would be damaging to the community.  

"I have nearly 80 signatures on this petition," she said.   

"People have said they are not going to pay any attention to this petition at all because Mr Trail has made up his mind that he wants this camp to go ahead."

Ms Richardson said she believed the economic benefit to the town had been overstated based on her experience with the current mining camps in the regions.

"No fly-in fly-out spend money here to support the local community because it's all spent where they live," she said.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.