Mount Gibson tightens Koolan Island travel safety

The Koolan main pit, looking east. Image: Mount Gibson Iron

Mount Gibson Iron has commissioned a $20 million airstrip that is expected to bring safety benefits to the Koolan Island iron ore operation in Western Australia.

The company completed the commissioning via a test flight of a Fokker 100 jet aircraft at the end of the September quarter.

The airstrip is expecting its first passenger flight this month, with around 100 personnel arriving from Perth direct to Koolan Island. The direct flights enabled by the facility will reduce the average commute time for Perth personnel by around half.

Mount Gibson stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had further demonstrated the value of this development.

Its completion contributed to a positive start to the new financial year at Mount Gibson, according to company chief executive Peter Kerr.

“From early March 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic necessitated significant and evolving responses by industry and government to slow the transmission rate of the virus, including restrictions on the movement of people into and within Western Australia, and strict social distancing requirements,” Mount Gibson stated.

“… (Safety) measures included pre-travel screening and declarations, social distancing during travel and on site, enhanced cleaning and personal hygiene protocols, extended rosters to minimise travel, support for the relocation of interstate personnel to (Western Australia), and replacement of commercial flights for Koolan Island personnel with dedicated jet charter services.”

Mount Gibson is moving into a peak phase of waste stripping at the hematite mining operation, which is around 140 kilometres north of Derby in Yampi Sound, off the northern Kimberley coast of Western Australia.

The 2.1 kilometre sealed and all-weather airstrip lies at the centre of Koolan Island.