The North West is Western Australia’s primary resource producing minerals, oil and gas at an international scale. It is a vast region encompassing the Pilbara with a land area of over half a million square kilometres as well as extensive oil and gas fields off the coast.
The development of the resources sector in the North West has been the catalyst for the growth of the Western Australian economy in the latter half of the twentieth century. Resources companies are the primary driving force of the Pilbara economy which is often referred to as the ‘economic heart’ of Western Australia.
The value of resources production from the North West was over $80 billion in 2010, contributing to almost 80 per cent of the State total. Commodities produced in the region include iron ore, copper, gold and silver, manganese and salt, and a range of hydrocarbons including crude oil and condensate, liquefied natural gas, natural gas, LPG Butane and Propane.
The Federal Government once had an export ban on iron ore, however with significant discoveries during the 1950’s the export embargo was lifted in 1960. As a result work commenced on developing iron ore projects within WA, which has subsequently resulted in making Australia a global player in iron ore production. The establishment of many towns throughout the North West is a direct result of this commodity.
Approximately 400 million tonnes of iron ore were exported in 2010/11. Iron ore from the Pilbara had total sales value of nearly $55 billion (2010/11) which makes it the leading commodity. Many new projects are underway as well as expansions to existing projects. There are now over $20 billion of committed iron ore projects in the Pilbara.
Western Australia’s largest oil and gas field is the Carnarvon Basin off the north-west coast. Following the discovery in 1971/1972 of the North West Shelf gas fields the North West Shelf Venture has seen $27 billion invested in facilities that make up Australia’s largest oil and gas resource development. Australia’s biggest resource project, the Gorgon Joint Venture LNG project, is set for development at an estimated cost of $43billion and a further $19.6 billion of offshore committed projects are to be developed. The petroleum sector accounted for $23.18 billion of production in 2010.
Expansion and development in relation to nickel, gold, copper and manganese sectors is also occurring. There are also significant uranium deposits in the Pilbara, most notably Kintyre which is the second largest known deposit in Western Australia.
Companies in the North West make substantial economic contributions, both direct and indirect which have a huge positive impact locally, regionally and nationally. They inject millions of dollars directly into the region through salaries and wages, payments of taxes and royalties to governments and through the support of local suppliers, contractors and other businesses.
CME in the North West
Within the North West Region CME is focused on the following strategies to deliver the industry’s vision:
- Sustainable regional hubs and communities
- Social infrastructure provided by government; supported by industry
- Infrastructure and Planning
- An industry-government infrastructure plan for State and regional development
- Coordination between the responsibilities of government, industry and community in the provision of social and physical infrastructure
- Effective regulatory capacity frameworks
- Access to an appropriately skilled workforce
- Increase the size of the skilled labour pool
- Natural Resources
- Responsible Water Use
- Industry-wide technology solutions
North West Regional Council
The North West Regional Council is chaired by Mr Chris Cottier of BHP Billiton Iron Ore.