Projects in the Esperance region such as refurbishing the Tanker Jetty and fast tracking a new TAFE campus should be funded with any exit money the State Government receives from Cleveland-Cliffs, according to Roe MLA Peter Rundle.
The mining company announced possible plans to cease operations in Australia this year, but Mr Rundle said Cliffs signed a take-or-pay contract to ship ad least 7.5 million tonnes of iron ore per year until 2030.
Mr Rundle said Cliffs would need to negotiate with the State Government if they don’t meet this volume.
“This money should be returned to the Esperance community, which will be hardest hit by the Cliffs withdrawal, for projects that will stimulate the economy and create jobs, such as the refurbishment of Esperance Tanker Jetty,” he said.
The State Government had not received formal advice from Cliffs Natural Resources regarding the use of Southern Ports and will comment further when the company provides more details, according to a spokesperson.
“The State Government understands the difficulties workers and their families will be facing and will provide the necessary support and assistance as part of any future job transition period,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Rundle said the Esperance TAFE was subject to flooding, and the Government should use funds to fast track construction of a new campus.
The government reiterated it had pledged $17.8 million to upgrade the TAFE and said the campus was expected to open in 2021.
Mr Rundle also called on the McGowan Government to rethink its decision in December of 2017 to block mining on the Helena-Aurora Range, which he said had taken away jobs from the Esperance community.
Mineral Resources Limited wanted to develop two iron-ore sites on the range, but the State Government sided with the Environmental Protection Agency who deemed the site environmentally unacceptable.
The company planned to transport iron ore through the Esperance Port, Mr Rundle said these operations could create new job and development opportunities during these tough times for Esperance.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the government would not change its mind on rejecting the mining proposal.
“Last year, after careful deliberation, the State Government determined a proposal to build two iron ore mines in the Helena-Aurora Ranges should not proceed,” the spokesperson said.
‘Under the Environmental Protection Act, the matter is final and without appeal.”