BHP lends a hand to Ravensthorpe residents

The buyback will apply to residents of Ravensthorpe, Hopetoun and Esperance who were original recipients of financial assistance from the company to buy or build a house in one of the towns.A BHP spokesman told MiningNews.net that while it was too early to determine the cost of the buyback, it would involve the repurchase of around 60 homes.“They will be bought back for the same value as they were originally purchased,” he said.“Where staff were relocated and encouraged to buy a property in the area with financial assistance, those are the staff that will be eligible for that particular support.”The miner said it would also offer some assistance to local businesses that will be affected and has held talks with a number of them.The Western Australian government has also vowed to assist the region as many residents fear Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun will become ghost towns following the loss of 1500 jobs.On Tuesday, Premier Colin Barnett guaranteed essential services in the town for at least the next six months and said the government would contribute $5 million in assistance to offset the decline in revenues and population.“Ravensthorpe and the region has been dealt a severe blow and it is our task to make sure we are doing our utmost to lessen the flow-on effects of the mine’s closure on the quality of life of the people in these communities,” Barnett said on Tuesday.“BHP’s decision has created great uncertainty for the community and especially local businesses and we need to focus on ensuring that these are given the proper support needed in recovering from this situation.”The government will also explore the possibility of sealing the road between Hopetoun and Bremer Bay to increase tourism.An interagency taskforce has been sent to the region to provide immediate assistance to residents and businesses.BHP said in a statement that it was continuing to liaise with Ravensthorpe employees, the local community and the government.The company is also focusing on redeploying as many employees as possible.“We’ve always said that our focus will be on maximising redeployment opportunities and we have HR people there working on that at the moment,” the spokesman told MNn.“We recently announced a $4.8 billion expansion in WA in our iron ore businesses, so we continue to invest across the cycle as we’ve always said we would do, given the strength of our balance sheet and the nature of our portfolio, so there are definitely opportunities there.”

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