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  • RDA Pilbara

Working with big business, life on Mars and a remarkable underwater find

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Each week, RDA Pilbara compiles a weekly wrap of news that's important to industries and communities in the region and also the highlights of our activities on the ground.

Read on for what's been happening from June 23 to June 30.

Mining’s big contribution recognised

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) released its annual economic contribution data earlier in the week and it makes for a fascinating read.

Data from 71 CME member companies showed that they contributed $99 billion and $57 billion respectively to the Australian and Western Australian economies – including purchases of goods and services from businesses, wages paid to employees and payments to governments.

While the data doesn’t separate out a Pilbara component of the national and State contributions, the scope of our region's mining and resources projects and their workforces means activity here has a very sizeable on-flow effect for other parts of WA and Australia.

Dealing with big businesses in the Pilbara

RDA Pilbara CEO Tony Simpson was among the crowd at a highly relevant and well-attended business luncheon this week hosted by the Town of Port Hedland and the Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce.

The session focussed on a question many small businesses and start-ups face – how to engage with big businesses in the Pilbara – and Michael Still from RE:GROUP was a great choice as speaker.

Michael spoke from his own personal experience and that of RE:GROUP with some great insights into what is often a challenging aspect of operating in an environment where there are so many major projects.

Another milestone for Spoilbank Marina

The Spoilbank Marina project in Port Hedland is officially on the home run, after the awarding this week of the sixth and final major contract for landside civils and landscaping - covering construction of the marina roads, car and trailer parking, retaining walls, footpaths, landscaping, public amenities building, shade structures, barbecue areas and the installation of utilities and services.

Congratulations to Pilbara Ports Authority on the milestone and also to the successful proponents Ertech.

The marina boat ramps are expected to be operational in late 2023, with final completion of remaining marine and landside areas expected in 2024.

Based on the artist’s impressions, we can’t wait to see the final product!

Could the Pilbara unlock the secrets of Mars?

Probably not a question we ever thought we’d be asking but one that is suddenly pertinent given the presence in the WA Outback of a team from NASA.

We’re used to describing our beautiful natural surroundings as out-of-this-world but that turn of phrase might actually turn out to be more accurate than we had realised!

The two-week NASA mission to Australia will focus on stromatolites, which are the oldest known macro fossils. Stromatolites in the Pilbara are thought to be nearly 3.5 billion years old and researchers want to compare them to samples from Mars.

They are hopeful it might help answer questions about whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Ancient underwater discovery off the Pilbara

It must be the week for Pilbara-related research: the ABC reported earlier in the week that an underwater site off our coast had been confirmed as Australia's deepest known ancient Aboriginal site.

The recent discovery of four stone artefacts - at a spot known as Flying Foam Passage – has given researchers confidence to confirm its status as an ancient site.

One artefact had originally been found at the passage several years ago, following the 2019 discovery of hundreds of ancient stone tools and grinding stones at Cape Bruguieres.

The new finds confirm an archaeological site at a depth of 14m and its significance has been acknowledged by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.

Guy back running after some well-earned rest

A little check-in to finish the week on Guy Schweitzer and his highly entertaining (and exhausting!) quest to run from Port Hedland to Brisbane.

Guy, who is a director of MGN Civil (which undertook work on the aforementioned Spoilbank Marina), enjoyed a couple of days of rest mid-week after arriving in Glen Helen. The break was mostly on account of wet weather but also allowed Guy to rehab his calf/ankle and partake in a burger.

He's back on the road now and hopeful of reaching Alice Springs over the weekend, although his pathway to Brisbane might need re-routing if the rain continues.

You can follow Guy’s journey on Facebook:

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