More BHP workers could soon be coming to Port Hedland as the Town recommends an expansion of one its largest accommodation sites and hopes it might alleviate stress on the housing market. On Wednesday, May 31, the Town of Port Hedland unanimously backed the recommendation to the Joint Development Assessment Panel for the expansion of the Port Haven workers accommodation to cater for more BHP employees. Sitting about 10km to the south of Port Hedland’s town centre, and within the Port Hedland Airport Scheme, the accommodation currently has 1202 rooms and houses about 800 BHP employees. Port Hedland mayor Peter Carter said the expansion was necessary to accommodate the region’s numerous resource projects. “(The Port Haven expansion) was unanimously approved by council, around 458 additional rooms for their camp. They have a camp there now of around about 1200 rooms so this extra 400 will be great for them,” he said. “They’re growing and growing and the Town is growing. So they need more workers to do more things on the port and so forth. “It was passed by the council and now it will go to JDAP.” The proposed expansion of the development would add an additional 458 rooms in a double-storey construction, five laundry facilities, three human goods lifts, an additional sports centre, and a cafe. The new sports facility includes two squash courts, a gym, a multi-sport court, four virtual golf rooms, a gymnasium and a communications room. According to the project report, during busy business periods about 2000 rooms are needed to accommodate workers. The increase in resource projects has led to a surge in housing demand that exceeds capacity in BHP villages. Cr Carter said the Port Haven expansion would help ease the pressure on the competitive regional housing market and stimulate the local economy. “The Town keeps getting bigger and BHP need more workers so putting them into an expanded camp rather than houses, it puts a lot less pressure on the housing market,” he said. “But it also gives BHP a permanent workforce in the Town as well and it creates more jobs for people in the town. “The camp is there for a reason, it’s great having the guys all in one area. There’s no other way you could build that level of accommodation in two years. There’s just no other way.” Last week the North West Telegraph reported that median weekly rent prices had reached $850 in Port Hedland. Port Hedland has a rental vacancy rate of 1.1 per cent. A BHP spokesperson said the expansion would alleviate the pressures on the Port Hedland housing market and contribute to the local economy. “Expanding and upgrading the facilities at Port Haven will help ease the ongoing constraints in Port Hedland and support our growth and ambitions over time,” the spokesperson said. “We’re absolutely committed to supporting and growing our residential workforce but we also need to ensure that working in Port Hedland continues to be a positive, home away from home experience for our fly-in, fly-out employees and contractors. “The expansion will include up to 450 additional rooms and a new multi-purpose sports and recreation facility, making it a comfortable, safe and appropriate environment that supports the health and wellbeing of our people working away. “Importantly, it will also provide more opportunities for local employment, businesses and suppliers.” In 2022, BHP spent $324 million dollars in Port Hedland and Newman. Cr Carter said he hoped the expansion would free up hotel rooms and allow more tourists to come to town. “Workers can book out every hotel in town, so even tourists can’t come, other people can’t come and stay,” he said. “It’s not good when (hotels) have booked out every room available. “The more rooms they have in their own area and in their own camp, it’ll free up those rooms for others. So it’s a very good thing.” In 2018 Creating Communities published a report outlining the economic and social benefits of the Port Haven accommodation on Port Hedland. The report found it contributed to $1.3m in rates and $1.657m in wages each year.