Mining downturn makes way for ‘mini-boom’ as WA businesses warn against population cap – by Eliza Borrello (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – October 3, 2018)

When Australia’s population hit 25 million earlier this year, Liberal senator Dean Smith called for a national population debate. Possibly lost in some of the headlines was his point that in parts of regional Australia, populations are not growing fast enough.

In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, in Senator Smith’s home state of Western Australia, the mining sector is going through what some are calling a “mini-boom” and businesses are struggling to get staff.

Eagle Petroleum, a Kalgoorlie-based company that runs service stations and transports fuel in bulk to mine sites, is a case in point. “Trying to find a truck driver is very, very difficult at this point in time,” the company’s chief executive Jessica Biddle said.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a population of 30,000. But Ms Biddle, who is also the president of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce, said recent surveys suggested the town needed 1,500 more people to fill vacant jobs.

She said many of the vacancies had been created by a strong gold price and a resurgence in the local nickel industry. “There are also uranium and lithium mines that are looking to open up.”

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