West Pilbara desalination project aborted

An Aus$ 370 million (US$ 380 million) desalination plant in West Australia’s West Pilbara region has been deferred, state water minister Bill Marmion announced on 9 September 2011.

Future water supplies for Karratha, Roebourne, Dampier and Wickham have been secured by a new agreement between the state government and Rio Tinto Ltd, leading to the deferral of a planned desalination project.

Marmion and regional development minister Brendon Grylls said that, under the new agreement, Rio Tinto would surrender its annual entitlement to water from the Millstream aquifer. Rio Tinto would develop its own alternative water supply from the Bungaroo Valley at an estimated cost to the company of US$ 310 million.

Marmion said the agreement meant the state would not proceed with the West Pilbara Desalination Project.

“Heavy rains in the Pilbara following the 2010-11 cyclone season replenished major drinking water sources and secured short-term water supply. The rain, combined with this agreement, has allowed the Government to defer the desalination project,” Marmion explained.