Commuting with on-site accommodation in the mining industry and its effects on spatial structures
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CitationTykkyläinen, Markku. (1996). Commuting with on-site accommodation in the mining industry and its effects on spatial structures.174 (2) , 223-243.
An analysis is made of experiences and spatial effects of commuting by air with on-site accommodation for the purposes of resource extraction in sparsely populated areas. The case concerned is that of the Forrestania Nickel Mines in Western Australia, owned by the Outokumpu Group and opened in January 1993. Comparison is made with the Zaldivar Mine in Chile.
This case study demonstrates that the reasons for the growth of airborne long-distance commuting lie in the increasing technical and economic possibilities for organising commuting between urban agglomerations and remote working sites, the introduction of compressed and rotational work schedules and the lifestyle and behaviour of the employees themselves, all of which factors favour long-distance commuting.
Long-distance commuting causes a marked bifurcation in the life of an employee, as his working life and home life are entirely separate. His social ties and family are rooted in the social networks of his actual domicile, and many employees aspire to live in a metropolitan environment, as the availability of services, lifestyle, environment and social networks to be found there foster an attachment with their domiciles, whereas rural mining localities are not attractive for permanent dwelling and are thus not viable housing options if long-distance commuting is available.
This increasing long-distance commuting restructures urban and rural housing and infrastructures. The spatial structure related to mining becomes fragmented, and it becomes a combination of various resource communities connected to home localities by different models of commuting operating over unpredictable. The paper demonstrates clearly that sophisticated technology, efforts to improve economic efficiency and individual preferences may lead to fundamental changes in the spatial structures of sparsely populated areas.