Geoff Wedlock Innovation Park
During construction in 2010, Karara purchased land for its rail infrastructure. Some of the land is classed as semi-arable and about 5,000 acres was set aside to establish a Mid West innovation hub for mining and non-mining related ventures. The land is named after former Gindalbie Metals Chairman, Geoff Wedlock, and has been dubbed Innovation Park.
In 2011, Karara partnered with the Midwest Employment and Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation (MEEDAC) to develop a large-scale and commercially viable chicken farm, free-range egg and horticultural enterprise at Innovation Park. About 70% of produce was used to supply the Karara Village with the remaining distributed within the regional community, providing quality fresh local produce at discounted prices.
The initiative provided direct employment, annual traineeships, on-the-job training, job qualifications and real employment outcomes for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous workers in a culturally sensitive way and “on-country.” Since 2014, more than 50 people have participated in programs and more than 20 people have left the project to take up new full-time employment in the region.
In 2016, Karara Mining Ltd and MEEDAC were jointly awarded the Inaugural Department of Mines & Petroleum Resources Sector Community Partnership Award by the Minister in recognition of the deep and sustainable partnership arrangement between Karara and MEEDAC, the innovative program and the diverse range of important and successful outcomes it has delivered.
The project concept has varied in recent years. The chooks are now gone and the original shade houses have been replaced with a state-of-the-art fully enclosed and climate controlled 10,000 square metre greenhouse, supported by Commonwealth funding. MEEDAC are continuing to provide quality fresh product to both Karara Village and the Mid West region and provide full time employment and training opportunities for local indigenous people.