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Outback mining town receives a $135M lifeline

Jabiru
Jabiru

A remote community built more than 30 years ago to house mine workers will receive a major funding boost to make it a more liveable place.

The Northern Territory Government is splashing $135.5 million over four years to upgrade local infrastructure, health clinic and build a new Bininj Resource Centre, power station, government services hub, and education precinct in Jabiru.

Dozens of locals find work

Local contractor Advance Civil Engineering recently won the $6.4M tender to upgrade 1.7 km along Gimbat Road and build a bridge over Kambolgie Creek.

More than 35 locals are working on the upgrade which, when complete in 2020, will offer better accessibility to Kambolgie Creek Campground and Kakadu National Park on both the north and south escarpments of the South Alligator River.

Tenders have been called to construct the environmentally friendly power station that will create jobs and help the territory achieve its 50 per cent renewable energy target once operational.

“Jabiru is an important town, not just as the gateway to Kakadu National Park but as a service centre for all those who live in the West Arnhem region,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said in a public statement.

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Jabiru was established in 1982 as a closed community. Its primary purpose was to house workers at Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger Uranium Mine, 262km east of Darwin. The proponent ceased mining activities in 2012 and suspended exploration at Ranger 3 Deeps three years later.

The town’s population was just over 1000 according to the 2016 Census and an 80 per cent drop in international tourist numbers to just 30,000 a year really impacted on the local economy. The town was bracing for the worst when the mine completely closes in the year 2021.

NT Aboriginal Affairs Minister Selena Uibo described the town as “Aboriginal land”.

“Kakadu is home to the oldest continuous culture on earth,” she said. “The Mirrar traditional owners, by drawing upon more than 65,000 years of knowledge and wisdom, can improve the visitor experience for those who come to visit this very special part of the territory.”

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