News that the state government has approved a mining lease and given development approval for Iron Road’s Central Eyre Iron Project has huge ramifications Eyre Peninsula wide.
There is still a lot that needs to happen before mining can start but this is a significant step in the process and one the company has been waiting for for a long time.
It will be good news for many with nearly 2000 jobs expected to be created during construction and 700 jobs over the 25-year life of the mine, not to mention the flow-on boost to the economy locally and statewide, but others are worried about losing their farms, productive farmland being ruined, property values going down, and the environmental impact of the mine and railway corridor, among other things.
Farms around the mine site and along the railway corridor are people’s livelihoods, many have been in the same family for generations, and the project has caused many of these landowners a serious amount of stress.
Iron Road still has to meet 127 conditions including resolving land access issues - which could be a fairly large stumbling block - before the mine can go ahead but this tick of approval from the state surely signals a serious intention to make this project happen.
In the shorter term, 2000 jobs will be a welcome boost for the wider region not just communities in the immediate vicinity of the mine and new port.
In the longer term, Iron Road is promising 700 ongoing jobs for the expected 25-year life of the mine.
While the proposed mine site is at Warramboo near Wudinna, the economic impacts will be felt all over Eyre Peninsula, with the transport corridor running through Eastern Eyre and the new deep-water port at Cape Hardy on Lower Eyre Peninsula, which won’t just be for magnetite.
Iron Road has already been working with Emerald Grain to develop a new grain distribution and supply chain network using Iron Road’s planned rail and port facilities at Cape Hardy.
This is expected to provide welcome competition for SA grain growers and provide an efficient channel from farm to export destinations. If this project eventually proceeds to production there will be widespread benefits for many but there will also be devastation for farmers across the Eyre Peninsula.