SA to invest in healthier smelter plant

By Paul Hemsley

Environmental guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will give the South Australian Government a clearer path to re-invest in a lead smelter.

The guidelines regarding Nyrstar’s Port Pirie lead smelter mean that the company will need to invest in updated technology to reach the goals set out in licencing conditions agreed with the EPA.

Even though the plant has made “considerable improvements” over recent years, it has been operating for more than 120 years with aged and outdated technology.

As a consequence, the new licensing conditions will allow Nyrstar to adopt technology that delivers better environmental and health outcomes for the region.

Nyrstar estimates the cost of a potential redevelopment to be around $350 million.

The company is in discussions with state and federal governments in Australia to access financial and non-financial support for a potential redevelopment.

According to Nyrstar, it is not possible to indicate what the outcome will be of these discussions as they are currently at a preliminary stage.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the government will ensure that the plant operates at an acceptable environmental standard and continue making an important and long-term contribution to the Port Pirie region and the state economy.

Mr Weatherill said the government has created the Port Pirie Transformation steering committee to work with Nyrstar on the plant’s future.

“The steering committee is continuing to investigate options for securing the resources required by Nyrstar to finance that investment in a way that will underpin the continued future of the Port Pirie plant,” Mr Weatherill said.

He said the Spencer Gulf region would struggle to survive without the facility.

“It is vitally important Nyrstar finds a way to re-invest in what will not only be a cleaner, healthier plant, but also an investment in a long-term, secure future for the workers and people of Port Pirie,” Mr Weatherill said.

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