Analysis and Commentary

Just add water – study to boost Whyalla water supply

Analysis and Commentary

State and federal governments and major mining companies are backing a $15 million feasibility study to solve one of the major constraints of industrial and mining development in the state – a lack of water.

With the Whyalla steelworks and existing copper mines supplied by pipeline from the Murray or underground, planned massive expansions of industry in the region are in the balance.

Now governments and copper miners BHP and Oz Minerals will study the viability of a desalination plant in the region to underpin massive expansions of industry.

The move is partly spurred by the start of construction of a $2.3 billion, 900-kilometre electricity interconnector with New South Wales which will transfer solar PV and wind power to the eastern states, as well as stimulating local development.

Oz Minerals and BHP have the capacity to boost copper output by more than one million tonnes a year, the Whyalla steel works is going green and seven green hydrogen projects have been shortlisted for a hydrogen hub at nearby Port Bonython.

There is also potential to expand local horticultural industries – Sundrop already produces tomatoes for Coles in a solar-powered desalination plant and greenhouse complex near Port Augusta.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said the Northern Water Supply project had the potential to create 6,000 jobs once operational.

Marshall said: “This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure a brighter future for South Australia and create jobs in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Picture: BHP/Olympic Dam

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