What’s similar between Western Australia and Alberta?

May 1, 2015

Two economic powerhouses

These two regions are over 14,500 km apart and yet they are actually quite similar. “Although Western Australia is on the other side of the world from our North American operations, many might be surprised to learn that it is actually like a warmer version of Alberta,” says Aron Willis, vice president, Australia. “Just like oil and gas drive the Alberta economy, minerals drive the Western Australia economy.”

Western Australia is one of the most important economic engines in the country with the mining industry extracting gold, nickel, iron ore and uranium for export. Just as Calgary is the home of many oil and gas head offices, Perth is the headquarters for many of the large mining companies in the state.

Fort McMurray is the heart of Alberta’s oil and gas operations; Western Australia’s has a similar area where the bulk of its exports occur called Port Hedland. The massive operations at Port Hedland include the world’s largest bulk materials port where industry sends its mined minerals to be distributed. The port operations require reliable power, which TransAlta will help provide upon completion of the South Hedland power station.

Powering Western Australian industry

TransAlta’s Western Australian operations focus on providing behind the fence power to the state’s mining industry:

  • Parkeston powers an open pit gold mine called the Super Pit
  • Southern Cross Energy supplies power to nickel mining and processing operations
  • Solomon powers a large iron ore mine
  • South Hedland will supply power to the Port Hedland operations

Just as many Canadians travel to and from Fort McMurray for work schedules, many of Western Australia’s mining operations use fly-in, fly-out rosters for employees due to the remote location of these operations. Employees at TransAlta’s Leinster, Mount Keith and Solomon power stations work on afly-in, fly-out rosters.

Extreme weather conditions

TransAlta’s power stations operate in extreme weather temperatures in both Canada and Australia. In Alberta, temperatures can reach -40°C with snow during winter where we operate our plants. This is also when it is the Australian summer where temperatures can reach well over +40°C and it is dry and dusty.  In both extreme weather conditions our employees ensure that we operate safety and reliably.

We’re not so different

Although there are some obvious differences between Alberta and Western Australia, our industries are what make the two regions similar. For TransAlta this means that we can work in collaboration across our fleet implementing our history and expertise with power generation in Alberta to industry across the world. There are many new aspects TransAlta has learned and developed in operating in Western Australia, but the foundation for generating and supplying power is the same. No matter what part of the world we are operating in, our people are what make this company successful and they are what help us to continue to provide reliable power to our customers.

May 1, 2015

A TransAlta Australia employee