While the proposed $33-billion expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine project will surely add greatly to the coffers of Roxby Downs, making it self-sufficient in the long-term, the same could not be said as far as adequate housing accommodations is concerned.
Currently with some 5,000 residents, the population of Roxby Downs is expected to double once the Olympic Dam expansion goes ahead. Almost a third of the present number of residents are fly-in, fly-out workers.
"The turnover's very high, about 20 per cent per year, so that becomes a positive challenge really," Bill Boehm, administrator of the Roxby Downs Council, was quoted by ABC News. "So you get really good people coming in and then they leave. But then they're replaced by other people with quite often different skills."
Under the mine indenture agreement that global miner BHP Billiton Ltd. signed with the state and federal government, the council gets to be subsidised for its municipal operations.
"That will mean that there will be enough rate revenue, enough income generated for the facilities, although there'll be a challenge to get the right facilities," Mr Boehm said.
This opinion was seconded by local jeweller Leigh Malcolm, who said housing accommodations in Roxby Downs is already getting to be quite a challenge.
"We're bursting at the seams, there's no spare housing to rent. Any housing that gets built, it gets snaffled up straight away," Mr Malcolm said. "It's probably one of the biggest problems actually, there's no accommodation here.
Mr Malcolm shared one of the reasons why there are many fly-in, fly-out workers is due to the lack of housing units.
Although plans are afoot to build more houses, it will take some time before thousands of nails start getting pounded on the ground.
"It's a bit of a fine balancing act and it's going to be like this for the next few years. Until such stage as the town's population becomes stable, it'll continue to be like that," said Craig Sumsion, a local real estate agent.
"The town is such that it's hard to tell how many houses you need to build or not. If you build too many you destroy the economy of the town, if you don't build enough you create a shortage."
BHP Billiton Ltd. is expected to come up with a final decision by mid-December 2012 regarding the expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine project.
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