November 20, 2019
For years, mining communities in the NSW central west have opposed the development of mining camps in their region. So there was surprise when a new camp suddenly appeared in Ulan.
“The first we heard of it was Ulan Village Green popping up on Facebook and people wondering it was,” said South Western District Vice President Craig Carberry. “It sounds like a resort, but it’s just dongas.”
Previous proposals for mining camps in Gulgong and Turill have been denied approval after attracting community opposition. Major mines like Ulan, Moolarben and Wilpinjong are all in striking distance of regional centres like Mudgee and Gulgong and community members support the principle of the mining industry employing locals.
Stage 1 of Ulan Village Green with 48 rooms opened last week and there are already a few Drive in Drive Out workers staying there. The camp website is promising a further 100 rooms for Stage 2.
“It has certainly happened under the radar,” said Craig. “I’ve tried to get to the bottom of it with councillors and the mayor. It seems like it may have been approved some years ago, but only been built now.”
The union has many questions about the camp – including who the developer is and who owns the land, with none of the mining companies admitting any involvement.
Locals fear that if the camp is expanded it will severely impact the local economy. If 150 rooms for DIDO or FIFO workers are available, that means 300 jobs that could be taken out of the local area.
“These mines are just half an hour from Mudgee. There are plenty of locals looking for opportunities in mining and plenty of people willing to move to the area to take jobs here.
“The problem with camps is that they suck money out of the local community. Not only do workers no longer have to live locally, but if they are staying at camp they also don’t eat at local restaurants or have a drink at the local pub. We are also concerned that the camp isn’t sourcing goods and services locally.
“We have seen what’s happened in places like Cobar, once a camp is built. It takes people out of the community, rather than bringing them into it.”
The Union has had a good response to a petition about the camp and will oppose the development of Stage 2.