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The Chamber of Minerals and Energy yesterday labelled congestion at Perth Airport a "defining challenge" facing the resources sector.

The 2013 State Growth Outlook released yesterday forecast an increase of 640,000 fly-in, fly-out workers travelling through Perth Airport by 2017.

Several Northern Goldfields mines are already claiming flight delays are costing millions of dollars in lost production.

The CME report noted passenger volumes at Perth Airport more than doubled between 2001 and 2011 – from almost 5 million to 11.3 million – and addressing the “bottleneck” during peak hours requires ongoing co-operation between the airport, industry and government.

“The outlook considers the key growth enablers of people, energy and water,” CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said.

“It also looks at the demand drivers and outlook for key hard infrastructure, including airports, ports, road, rail and social infrastructure.

“While some supply side issues associated with the key growth enablers are starting to be addressed, they remain a major inhibitor to ongoing growth of the sector.”