May 17, 2017

Zinc refinery takes a shine to solar

Zinc refinery takes a shine to solar Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Kurt Pegoraro at Sun Metals.

Construction is under way on the $199 million solar farm at Townsville’s Sun Metals zinc refinery, setting the scene for a potential $267 million expansion.

The project is Queensland’s largest industrial solar project and will see 1.3 million solar panels installed to deliver a 125MW renewable energy power station at the refinery.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Energy Minister Mark Bailey, Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke and Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper today toured the site.

“Upon completion Sun Metals will be the largest single site user of renewable energy,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“This is a unique project and is a great example of an innovative company investing in its future and North Queensland.”

“This investment will help Sun Metals to secure its output by stabilising production costs, and will provide even more job security to the refinery’s 291 employees.”

The refinery operations require more than 900,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year.

Construction of the solar project, being led by RCR Tomlinson, is expected to create 210 jobs.

Sun Metals chief executive officer Yun Choi said current refinery operations saw Sun Metals produce 225,000 tons of zinc per annum using more than 900,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year.

“The SMC Solar Farm investment of $199 million is the first step in Korea Zinc ensuring the long term viability of the existing refinery and also underpinning the potential for its expansion using world class new technology, with an investment decision due in late 2017,” he said.  

“An expanded refinery would see an additional $267 million invested and is expected to support up to 827 construction jobs during peak construction and an additional 100 permanent refinery workers once operational, all within North Queensland.  

“The refinery expansion will also see an increase in broader economic activity for Townsville with significant increase in Townsville Port activities, uplift for local suppliers and contractors and also, via use of new refining technology, reduced water usage and environmental outputs.”

The Sun Metals solar project is expected to be completed in early 2018 and fully commissioned by April 2018.

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