Mining company announces $300k starting figure to buy out mine-side residents rattled by blasts

After months of consultations, residents of a mine-side suburb shaken by daily blasting have begun to understand what the mines' owner will offer for relocations. 

Key points:Attendees said some in the meeting were angry at the 'low ball' figureSome residents said the proposal will enable them to relocate from daily blasts and noiseThe exact deal for each home will be negotiated confidentially with individual households

Williamstown, on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, sits to the north of the famous Super Pit Gold Mine, with the tunnels of the even closer Mount Charlotte underground mine driving underneath and blasting every evening. 

Northern Star Resources has been consulting with residents since July to develop a proposal to help those willing to relocate. 

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A Williamstown resident captured her home rumbling towards the end of the minute-long explosion.  (Supplied)

Proposal a way out for some

Residents told the ABC the company indicated at a meeting on Thursday it would offer a minimum of $300,000 for those willing to move and would negotiate individually on the exact figure for each household. 

Phyl Domka said she was happy with the outcome, but some residents in the meeting were upset with the proposal. 

Phyl Domka and Kate Blond stand looking at camera in front of town hall
Phyl Domka (left) says she's been trying to relocate from Williamstown for 40 years.(ABC Goldfields: Sean Tarek Goodwin)

"I have no freehold, so this is the only chance I have of moving out of the area, which I've been trying to do for the last 40 years," Ms Domka said. 

She said that was due to the impacts of Northern Star's nearby mines. 

"They're right underneath me, they're blasting twice a day, plus the Super Pit's blasting as well," Ms Domka said.

"So it's three blasts a day, I'm getting, and it's shaking my house to pieces and it's scaring me and causing anxiety to my dogs." 

Residents disappointed by starting figure

Jo Green and Paul Andrews live in Williamstown and say they've enjoyed the tight-knit community atmosphere. 

Jo Green and Paul Andrews
Williamstown residents Jo Green and Paul Andrews say they were hoping the company would start its offers at a higher figure. (ABC Goldfields: Sean Tarek Goodwin)

Mr Andrews said he was disappointed by the starting figure but was confident there would be a good resolution. 

"It's a little bit of a low ball, but it's better than what we have ever had out there," he said.

Ms Green said ordinarily, it was difficult for residents of the mine-side suburb to sell due to the nearby activity. 

"There's no market for our area, and they could have come in a little bit higher, I think," Ms Green said. 

The Real Estate Institute of WA estimates the median house price in broader Kalgoorlie-Boulder at $325,000.

That has grown 13 per cent in the past year and is still the lowest median of any of the state's regional centres.

"We're looking at the WA average, not just the Kalgoorlie average," Ms Green said. 

"I can see a lot of people would struggle to try and replace what they've got."

The pair said they were planning to relocate to Perth, where they're expecting their first grandchild.

The median house price in the state's capital is $520,000.

Ms Green said, having worked in mining herself, she understood how important it was to the community and local economy, but hoped the company would do the right thing for residents. 

"At our point in life, we're pretty much mortgage-free, so we don't need to get into huge debt just to be able to start again because a billion-dollar gold mining company wants to take our little bit of dirt," she said.

"At the end of the day, they're welcome to have it but they've really got to look after people a little bit."

Williamstown sign
Williamstown residents say mining activity has increased in recent years. (ABC Goldfields: Sean Tarek Goodwin)

Company says packages will be 'generous'

Northern Star issued a statement thanking residents for participating in consultations, which involved more than 60 households.

The 2016 Census estimates there's a total of 63 households in the suburb. 

"Residents who want to sell their properties will be offered generous packages including relocation assistance and other non-financial support," the statement read. 

The company told residents it would put a two-year time frame on deciding whether to take up the offer or stay put and would ensure homes left behind would be demolished responsibly. 

The company has maintained its intentions weren't to open up the area for mining. 

"The Williamstown area is not part of Northern Star's KCGM Operations' Mine Plan and there is no operational need for Williamstown to be vacated," the statement read. 

Williamstown street
The mounds of the Super Pit gold mine are just a few hundred metres from the residential neighbourhood. (ABC Goldfields: Madison Snow)

Jo Green said she believed there were other motivations at play for the company. 

"They've been doing exploration drilling around us for quite a few years now," Ms Green said.

"You don't put drill programs around a town if you're not interested in throwing more big deep holes in the ground."

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Posted 12 Nov 202112 Nov 2021Fri 12 Nov 2021 at 1:46amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp


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