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Committee to guide major upgrade for Port Pirie smelter
11/07/2012 - A committee has been established to guide a major upgrade for the 120-year-old smelting operations at Port Pirie in South Australia.
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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the committee would include representatives from government and international metals group Nyrstar which employs about 800 people at its Port Pirie facility.
Koutsantonis told state parliament on Tuesday the government had been negotiating with Nyrstar over the past six months to secure an environmental upgrade of the plant and ensure its long-term future.
But he declined to answer opposition calls to reveal if the company had asked for financial assistance or if the government had agreed to provide funding.
"Nyrstar and the government are working together to make sure we have a solution for the people of Port Pirie," Koutsantonis said.
"This is about the future of Port Pirie.
"We are going to go ahead and deal with this company and deal with them in confidence."
Concerns over the Port Pirie operations were raised by the state opposition which says government documents have revealed that between $300-$500 million is needed to upgrade the Port Pirie smelter.
Industry spokesman Steven Marshall said the documents showed that Nyrstar was under enormous pressure from the federal government's carbon tax and more stringent state licence conditions.
But Koutsantonis told state parliament that a statement from Nyrstar had made it clear that the carbon tax was not a factor in any redevelopment decisions.
Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter employs about 800 people and last year produced about 195,000 tonnes of lead, 30,000 tonnes of zinc and 18 million troy ounces of silver.
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