New life at Dysart
Property investors back, and talk of Norwich Park & Olive Downs more believable
Wednesday 15 November 2017
Long-term residents of Dysart say the mood is improving, investors are back, and the rumours about a restart at Norwich Park are more believable than they have been in years.
One of the first communities to feel the full force of the mining downturn was Dysart.
The nearby Norwich Park mine - a major employer in the town - was one of the first operations to be shut down in 2012 costing the community hundreds of jobs.
Since then, rumours of a reopening of the mine have been in constant circulation.
Dysart Community and Business Group representative John Crooks can recall comments in the past by BHP that reopening Norwich Park would be considered at $170 a tonne.
With contract prices recently settling at around $190 a tonne, he says the rumours are carrying more weight.
“There are always rumours that they are going to reopen Norwich, but now even some people at BHP are saying that they’re going to do something,” he told Shift Miner.
“We also had a town meeting with the people behind the Olive Downs Project, and they seemed to be pretty positive.
“But so far nothing has happened.”
Nonetheless, the rising optimism has triggered some local investment activity with the Dysart Newsagency and Post Office finally selling, and the vacant engineering sheds near the town centre understood to be under contract.
“I have even seen a few of the property investors that got in and out during the last boom, rebuying houses,” Mr Crooks added.
“Although the property market is probably at a low point after Aurizon put all their houses on the market in one big hit a month or so ago for around $50,000.”
With the worst of the downturn now in the past, one of the local initiatives that Mr Crooks says has helped has been BHP’s local buying program.
He says it’s put millions back into the local community and given small business owners a chance they might not have otherwise got.
“Previously you had to have a vendor number to sell them a sandwich, but now under the local buying program hundreds of local businesses are able to compete for jobs,” he said.
“It doesn’t guarantee you the work, you still have to get your price right to be a chance.
“But I think it is about $50 million a year being spent through it locally, which is a big deal for the little bloke.
“Not only is the money spent locally, but a certain percentage of it also goes back into business and community development programs.”