Water supplies in the West Pilbara have been secured following the connection of a major new water source to the West Pilbara Water Supply Scheme.
Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Water Minister Mia Davies today visited Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert operations for the commissioning of the Bungaroo Valley Water project, which will supply water to Rio Tinto’s coastal operations and surrounding communities.
The original water scheme for the West Pilbara was built in the 1960s by mining companies Hamersley Iron and Robe River under agreements with the State Government, using the Millstream aquifer as the water source. The water scheme (Millstream Agreement) was handed to the State to operate in 1976.
“Under the Millstream agreement, both iron ore projects were entitled to draw significant quantities of water for their operations from the Millstream aquifer. But as the population of the West Pilbara has grown, so has demand on the region’s water supply,” the Premier said.
“The new water supply provided by Bungaroo has enabled Rio Tinto to relinquish its water entitlements from Millstream, freeing up significantly more water for Karratha and surrounding communities.
“This is a great example of the State Government working with industry to deliver benefits to regional communities.”
Ms Davies said the investment by Rio Tinto meant an extra 10 billion litres of water a year - equal to 4,444 Olympic-sized swimming pools - would be available for the future development of Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Point Samson.
“Securing these water supplies is a significant milestone in the State Government’s vision for Pilbara Cities,” she said.
Ms Davies said the project had also alleviated the need for the State Government to build and maintain a new desalination plant to cope with the pressure on supply, which resulted in significant savings for taxpayers.
The West Pilbara Water Supply Scheme services 7,500 residential and 1,800 other customers
Rio Tinto’s $330million investment includes installation of new infrastructure to extract water from the Bungaroo Valley and transfer it into the existing water supply scheme
The Bungaroo source secures critical water supply for Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert and Dampier port operations as the company increases production capacity towards 360 million tonnes of iron ore per year
The project also allowed Rio Tinto to meet its secondary processing obligations via an alternative project under the Iron Ore (Mount Bruce) Agreement Act 1972