Sir – As we move ever closer to commencement of several large mining projects in the region, this week’s presentation to the town council by Tellus Holdings on the proposed salt mine at Titijkala raises some very important questions.
The project will either stand to benefit or to haunt our community potentially for hundreds of years.
The salt mine presents a fantastic opportunity for our community. The initial mining project has a life of around 25 years, however we were informed that the deposit is of such a scale that the operation has a potential life span of 500 years.
There will be some 600 jobs during construction, declining to around 200 during operation, with a potential for hundreds more as various aspects of the storage business come on line.
Clearly the effect on the Alice and surrounding communities will be quite profound and as such we should give this potentially fabulous project the level of analysis and support it deserves.
The immediate issues for the government and the Alice are quite simple: If we don’t commit to providing sealed all weather access from Alice to the mine site at Titijkala the Tellus salt mine will be run to a large degree as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) operation. That scenario would be very bad news for the Alice.
The sheer scale of the economic opportunity this mine presents our region over such a length of time demands the provision of infrastructure to both support the project and maximise community gain.
The Territory Government should begin immediate negotiations with Tellus with the intent to provide all weather access. Clearly 120 kms of sealed road is not much to pay when measured against the long term economic benefit this project will provide the region.
Tellus put to council that we have a seven month window in which to decide our community’s choice of action, road or FIFO being the options presented.
As part of and because of this discussion the Territory also needs to consider urgently legislation addressing FIFO.
I am led to believe that WA and Queensland have acted on or are considering such legislation because of concerns raised around the effects of FIFO on local communities and families, upon which FIFO can be, and often is, completely destructive!
Given the number of approaching projects it is also clearly in the Territory’s interest that we establish rules around FIFO, rules that put the interest of Territory families and their communities first.
We don’t want to be sitting back in 50 years’ time, or 500 for that matter, surrounded by a lot of big holes in the ground and precious little to show for it.
The Territory must gain from both the royalties and by filling the jobs! Jobs filled by Territorians allow us to extract maximum economic benefit and maximum community benefit.
A window of opportunity for Territory growth and development is open, but not for very long! It’s time to act!