515 delegates gather for conference in Port Augusta

NETWORKING: Business representatives get involved in the trade expo at the 2018 Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf Conference.
NETWORKING: Business representatives get involved in the trade expo at the 2018 Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf Conference.

Port Augusta welcomed a record 515 delegates to Central Oval for the 14th annual Global Maintenance Upper Spencer Gulf (GMUSG) Conference on August 28-30.

The sell-out event brought together representatives from industries including resources, energy, manufacturing, defence and infrastructure, eclipsing the previous record turn-out of 440 delegates in Whyalla last year.

With several projects in these industries announced in recent years, including 13 renewable energy projects in Port Augusta, the Conference had a strong focus on local business opportunities.

Companies with major projects in the region, such as GFG Alliance, OZ Minerals and BHP, all presented at the event, while several others participated in the trade expo.

GMUSG Manager Mark Malcolm said the Conference emphasised interactions between explorers, producers, processors, developers and South Australia's supply chain.

“We’re putting them all in the one space over two days, that way they’re not running around all over the countryside trying to make connections with potential customers,” Mr Malcolm said.

“We’ve seen a real shift in the commitment of these companies to really work with suppliers in the Upper Spencer Gulf. That’s been very important and it will create more opportunities in the future.

“Upper Spencer Gulf more broadly, and particularly Port Augusta, is very well placed to be that hub to support growth of minerals, mining, exploration and energy.”

During the Conference, BHP informed Upper Spencer Gulf businesses about the key role they have played in delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in ongoing project work at Olympic Dam.

Small and medium-sized businesses in the region have been getting involved in the company’s local buying program.

BHP’s Olympic Dam Head of Projects David Page said there are many existing opportunities for contractors in the Upper Spencer Gulf to work with the company.

“Each and every year Olympic Dam delivers in excess of $300 million in ongoing project works at Olympic Dam to sustain the project and help set our platform for growth,” Mr Page said.

“That’s independent of our growth projects, which are really exciting but are still some years away.

“Our local buy program has really started to hit its stride, with nearly $690,000 of approved spend going to small local businesses in July alone.”

With accommodation in Port Augusta completely booked out during the three-day event, organisers arranged shuttle buses for delegates that stayed in Quorn, Port Pirie and Whyalla.

Mayor Sam Johnson said the “absolutely sensational” event puts an economic benefit back into the region.

“One of the great advantages of having a facility like Central Oval is that it gives us the ability to hold these large-scale conferences,” he said.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the delegates … we’re talking about delegates from Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Brisbane, all speaking very, very positively about Port Augusta as a town, but also the Upper Spencer Gulf region.

“The fact that there were 515 people travelling here to find out what’s going on in our region is a huge boost of positivity and excitement.”