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Anger at mine camp bid - Albany Advertiser

Sunday, 22 April 2018

An international gold producer plans to build a new mining accommodation camp just 20km from the township of Leinster, angering community leaders in the northern Goldfields.

South African-based miner Gold Fields confirmed yesterday it was looking to build accommodation facilities at the 250,000 ounce a year Agnew Gold Mine, just 25 minutes from the small community of about 600 people, 370km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

At the moment Gold Fields bases its 500-strong workforce, which is largely fly-in, fly-out, in Leinster, where the Kalgoorlie Minerunderstands it hosts workers in the town’s BHP-owned accommodation camp and occupies about 30 houses.

Shire of Leonora chief executive Jim Epis lashed out at Gold Fields, saying the decision would “wreck” the Leinster community.

“For a foreign company operating in Australia, this decision does not demonstrate that the company is a good corporate citizen,” he said. “In fact, their decision — no matter how hard it might have been — will do nothing except wreck a vibrant community at Leinster.”

A spokesman for Gold Fields said a purpose-built camp would deliver local economic benefits during its construction phase and improve the health and wellbeing of its employees and contrac-tors by cutting down travel time.

He also defended the company’s commitment to the community, saying it invested heavily around the Gold Fields, including in Kambalda, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Laverton and Leonora, but that Leinster was distinct because its facilities were managed and maintained by BHP’s Nickel West division.

“Unlike these communities, it is important to recognise that Leinster is a ‘closed’ mining town, housing BHP and other mining companies that have agreements with BHP such as Gold Fields employees and contractors,” the spokesman said.

“Planning for the new camp will continue over coming months and we will work through a number of factors, including the small number of our personnel and contractors who live in housing outside of the Nickel West camp.”

The move comes against a backdrop of strong anti-FIFO sentiment from Gold Fields councils.

Last year the peak body of the Gold Fields councils, the Gold Fields Voluntary Regional Organisation of Councils, adopted a policy that FIFO workforces for mines located within 60km of any Gold Fields community should be integrated into those towns.

Founded in the late 1970s, Leinster has seen a revival in fortunes in recent years after BHP made the decision to reinvest in the town and its nearby mines in 2016 despite low nickel prices, pledging to keep them running until at least 2032.


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