Port Gregory garnet mine loses up to $4 million due to Mid West power outages

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
The GMA garnet mine north of Port Gregory.
Camera IconThe GMA garnet mine north of Port Gregory. Credit: GMA

Unreliable power supply has cost a Mid West mine site up to $4 million in lost revenue this summer, as widespread outages continue to wreak havoc across the region.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Nationals MLA Shane Love said the GMA garnet mine north of Port Gregory has experienced more than 160 hours of outages in the last year.

Brownouts — caused by sudden spikes and drops in voltage — have caused additional problems, with the company resorting to installing its own microgrid to manage disruptions.

Mr Love said GMA claimed much of the issues stemmed from the sensitivity of local power lines.

“The mine believes that Western Power has turned up the sensitivity level on its lines more than is normal, leading to power outages. These outages did not happen as regularly before this occurred,” he said.

“The mine believes that the loss to its revenue stream from continual blackouts totals $3 million to $4 million (since December, 2021). This mine is a significant employer in the region with 60-odd employees, operating 24/7, and it is essential that it continues to produce product, but it needs reliable power to do that.”

Mr Love said a Geraldton batch plant was also recording revenue losses due to frequent outages, with one recent outage costing the business around $10,000.

“On February 6, along with everyone else in Geraldton, it did not have power because the antiquated cricket wickets as they are called — the wooden poles and wire that bring power up through Three Springs to Geraldton — gave out,” he said.

“The business was in the middle of making one of its batches, so that particular episode cost the business an estimated $10,000 in committed energy costs, wasted labour and materials, yet the most it can claim is $80, which is not a significant amount of money.

“It is critical to the production of that product that once it starts, it has reliable power throughout the process.”

Western Power has been contacted for comment.

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