The Pilbara is rich in natural resources, generating considerable wealth for both Western Australia and the nation from an economy dominated by the extraction, processing and export of minerals and hydrocarbons.
City of Karratha Shire of Ashburton
The City of Karratha (formerly the Shire of Roebourne) forms the central coastal part of the Pilbara region and has an area of just over 15,000 square kilometres. The population of just under 25,000 is predominantly distributed across a number of towns along the coastal strip adjoining Nickol Bay, including Karratha, Dampier, Roebourne, Wickham and Point Samson.
The City has experienced rapid growth largely due to natural resource projects in the region. These include the mining of iron ore and other minerals, and oil and gas operations.
Shire of East Pilbara
The Shire of Ashburton is the most southern of the Pilbara local government authorities and comprises over 100,000 square kilometres. It stretches from the coastal plains around Onslow, across the Stewart Hills to Pannawonica and the Hamersley Ranges to Tom Price and Paraburdoo. These towns contain the majority of the Shire's population of approximately 10,000 residents, with a number of remote Aboriginal settlements also being located in the municipality.
The Shire is home to immense cattle stations that coexist with substantial mining operations. In recent years, growth in the Shire has been driven by the construction of two of the world's largest LNG projects along the Shire's western coast.
Town of Port Hedland
The Shire of East Pilbara covers almost 380,000 square kilometres of land and spans the breadth of central Western Australia from the Indian Ocean coast to the Northern Territory border. Its resident population of around 12,000 is concentrated in the town sites of Newman, Marble Bar and Nullagine. The Shire also contains sizeable Aboriginal settlements such as Jigalong, Punmu and Parngurr.
The major industries in the municipality are mining, pastoralism and tourism.
The Town of Port Hedland comprises nearly 12,000 square kilometres between the City of Karratha and the Shire of East Pilbara. It has a large expanse of coastline and generally follows the catchments of the Yule and Turner Rivers.
Port Hedland is well known for its enormous iron ore and salt stockpiles, which are transported out of Australia's largest bulk commodity port. Its population of around 20,000 resides in two main centres, Port and South Hedland, as well as a number of remote Aboriginal settlements.