Today, the Kwinana Industrial Area (KIA) hosts a range of industries, from metal refining to chemical and energy production, and is a major contributor to the Western Australian economy.
The idea for an industrial complex in Kwinana was first floated in 1952, foreshadowed by policy changes to the international petroleum industry, with Perth named as a potential location for one of the world’s biggest refineries. Petroleum giant BP was invited by the State Government to investigate the viability of Cockburn Sound as a suitable harbour to accommodate large tankers.
The resulting agreement, formalised with the signing of the Oil Refinery (Kwinana) Agreement Act 1952, paved the way for Kwinana’s development and put Kwinana on the map as an industrial hub with an exciting future.
This year, its 66th year of operation, the flagship Kwinana facility ended its oil refining and even though it is reinventing itself, it still remains at the centre of the State’s leading industrial area.
“From the first entrant, the BP Kwinana Oil Refinery, to what it is today – probably Australia’s most successful and integrated complex industrial precinct – the evolution of the KIA is a fascinating one,” Kwinana Industries Council (KIC) President Albert Romano said.
“After several years of being somewhat in the doldrums since the global financial crisis, the precinct has sprung to life.” Mr Romano described the KIA as a beating heart to the broader society.
“People don’t realise just how reliant our daily lives are on Kwinana’s industry and exactly how connected it is with regional WA,” he said.
The KIC was formed in 1991 with the sole purpose of organising air quality monitoring for KIA industries.
Now, 30 years on, KIC is engaged in managing industrial hazard programs, air and water monitoring, and it coordinates industry’s efforts to reduce emission impact on the sensitive marine environment of Cockburn Sound.
KIC Director Chris Oughton said the business association worked to foster the safe and continuing operation of industry in harmony with the local community.
“Some 25 years ago, KIC’s success as an industry advocate meant the technical role evolved into a managerial one, as it responded to the many broader issues that a member-based organisation focuses on,” he said.
“We are still a small organisation by industry association standards, with only three full-time staff, but we are well regarded for our effectiveness.”
Mr Oughton believes for a complex industrial precinct like Kwinana, sustainability is extremely important.
“Being self-funded, we finished 2020 with 14 full members who are responsible for about 90 per cent of our annual fees income, and 20 associate members who are responsible for the remaining 10 per cent,” Mr Oughton said.
“Almost all of the major companies in Kwinana, and some from the adjacent Rockingham Industry Zone and Australian Marine Complex, are members of KIC.”
KIC Full Member companies include Alcoa, BHP Nickel West, BP Kwinana, Cockburn Cement, Coogee, CSBP, Fremantle Ports, Tronox, Kleenheat, Synergy, Avertas Energy, Covalent Lithium, Tianqi Lithium and Water Corporation.