Another major industrial hub planned for the Kimberley
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett favours Point Torment in King Sound (click here to find it on Google Maps) near Derby as a deepwater port and industrial estate to open the door for the industrialisation of the Kimberley. Publicly, he has proposed a $550 million ‘supply base’ to support the Browse Basin LNG projects, with some infrastructure assistance from State and Federal governments.
But this is no little supply base, as is made clear in numerous government-funded reports. The plan is for a major industrial hub, intended for:
- New live export cattle facility in tandem with the building of new oil and gas shipping infrastructure (ABC Rural, 7/6/2010)
- A supply base to increase the Kimberley region’s economic diversity (Department of State Development submission to Infrastructure Australia, 5/11/ 2009)
- Expansion of mining of mineral products including diamonds, gold, iron ore and nickel
- Recommencement of zinc production, from existing operations and from a new development
- Development of Australia’s first platinum mine
- Development of bauxite mining on Mitchell Plateau, followed by construction of an alumina refinery (ACIL Tasman May, 2009).
- Langey Crossing/Fraser River phosphate mine
- Export of 6 million tonnes of coal per annum from Canning Basin (Rey Resources)
- Uranium deposits in the Canning Basin, at Myroodah south of Derby (ABC News, February 23, 2010)
- Development of Point Torment gas field to supply power to alumina refinery.
What is threatened?
The ‘challenging tidal conditions’ (Premier Colin Barnett’s own words) in King Sound make the big ships intended to use the deepwater port a major chemical and biological threat to the ecological systems in King Sound and the Fitzroy River. Those conditions are considered by the Northern Development Task Force to make King Sound ‘an area of very high risk for the navigation of large…vessels’ (Appendix 1, May 2008).
The ships that would use a deepwater port and industrial hub in King Sound would threaten the Sound’s ecological significance and the role it plays in the breeding cycles of the Barramundi and the critically endangered Freshwater Sawfish populations of the Fitzroy River. The Sound is habitat for the rare and critically endangered Speartooth Shark and Northern River Shark, Snubfin Dolphins and the turtles that nest on the beach at Point Torment. The vast complex of globally significant mangroves lining the shores of King Sound sustains these animals. Any harmful organisms or chemical released from international shipping would immediately be spread throughout King Sound and into the Fitzroy River by the huge tides: