Decommissioning of a Mallee powerline helps community projects in the Wimmera and Mallee

PROUD: Powercor's Robert Sloper and Aaron Hughes (right) with Hannah Cairns and Bridgette Stephenson of headspace Mildura and a roll of the conductor wire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED
PROUD: Powercor's Robert Sloper and Aaron Hughes (right) with Hannah Cairns and Bridgette Stephenson of headspace Mildura and a roll of the conductor wire. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

LATERAL thinking around the decommissioning of a Mallee powerline will help get innovative new youth mental health initiatives off the ground at headspace Mildura.

When Powercor’s Horsham, Ouyen and Mildura staff were called in to remove a large section of industrial line near Ouyen, instead of producing waste materials, they combined forces and volunteered their time for community good.

The result was donations to community organisations across the Wimmera and Mallee. 

About 15 depot staff from Horsham, Ouyen and Mildura volunteered their time and businesses and residents got on board to help take down the line and wind it up by hand.

The aluminium conductor was sold to a metal merchant and is suitable to be re-smelted into items ranging from fridges and microwaves to medical equipment.

The sale raised $76,000 – $35,000 of which was contributed to the Ouyen recreational lake project for a kiosk and picnic area while $17,500 was directed to headspace Mildura.

The remainder of the money raised will go towards projects in the Horsham area.

Powercor Mildura field leader Aaron Hughes said the idea to use the decommissioning of a powerline as a charity project came from a local staff member.

“The line was constructed in 2011 to power Iluka’s Kulwin mine and had only a five-year lifespan, which was the expected life of the mine,” Mr Hughes said.

“There was about 40 kilometres of conductor wire to take down and because it was premium quality aluminium our construction project leader Robert Sloper identified the potential to sell it off for recycling.”

Mildura headspace clinician Hannah Cairns said the contribution was a great gesture.

“The money will go towards helping us raise awareness and reach more young people through some innovative community engagement projects, including a regional cricket round during the summer,” Ms Cairns said.

“But we’re also excited that we’ll be able to get another important program off the ground … which is a youth-led community awareness initiative about connecting with friends and family.”