The Western Australian government has announced that it has not ruled out an integrated electricity grid to meet rising demand in the mineral-rich and sparsely populated Pilbara region.

But the government said it sees the private sector as best placed to deliver.

Western Australia’s key industry lobby group, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, has predicted that electricity demand in the Pilbara will soar with increased mining activity. The forecasts have prompted calls for an integrated grid to avert what some fear is a looming energy crisis and to better facilitate development in the region.

Energy Minister Peter Collier said Horizon Power – the government utility that provides electricity in country areas – has received industry submissions for an integrated grid as part of its report into Western Australia’s energy needs for the next two decades.

But the government is unlikely to finance an infrastructure project that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, he added.

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