QUESTION: Electronic waste recycling at Nystar, Port Pirie

During Question Time, Mark asked the Treasurer about the status of Nyrstar's project to deliver electronic waste recycling at Port Pirie.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Last year, there was much fanfare over the proposal to turn part of the Nyrstar smelter at Port Pirie into Australia's first recycling facility for electronic waste. That project has excited a lot of people and, together with the potential for reducing lead pollution, they are probably two of the most important features of the smelter upgrade. My question of the Treasurer is: given the economic difficulties that Nyrstar has been facing, what commitment, if any, has he received that the electronic waste, or e-waste, recycling project is still on track?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): Can I inform the honourable member that if there was any fanfare that eventuated last year it had nothing to do with this government. It had, I suspect, a lot to do with the former government. This government is all about underpromising and overdelivering. There is very little fanfare unless it's perfectly justified.

The Hon. S.G. Wade: Just getting on with the job.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Getting on with the job, as my colleague said. In relation to the specific question about what assurances I have received, I do not believe I have received any assurances in relation to either fanfare or that particular project, more particularly, that the honourable member has raised. I am certainly happy to take it on notice to see what information we might have about that particular project.

In relation to Nyrstar more generally, I can't recall how much of this I have been asked on the public record and how much has been in the media, but in recent times I have met with the global CEO Hilmar Rode, and we had productive discussions in relation to the general issues that relate to the arrangement entered into by the former government and Nyrstar. During that discussion, there was discussion about other issues, in particular in relation to reductions in employment levels generally at Nyrstar and also issues that they have confronted, which have been publicly canvassed, in relation to lead abatement issues in the community and issues about EPA licensing arrangements and the difficulties they are confronting in quarter four of this particular year and potentially likely to confront in quarter one of next year.

I think it has been well publicised that they have had to make some adjustments to the operations of both the existing plant and the new plant to try to meet the licensing requirements for their facility at Port Pirie during this particular period. Their advice to me in relation to that was that they saw their major challenge as being in quarter four this year and quarter one next year. They believed, as the ramp-up of the new operation proceeded much further down the track, that they would not be facing as significant a problem in terms of meeting whatever licensing agreement the EPA might have for them in relation to lead abatement issues.

But the honourable member's question was more specifically in relation to that particular project; the honest answer is I didn't receive any response at that particular meeting because it wasn't canvassed. I don't believe I have received any response in relation to general briefings I have had, but I'm happy to take it on notice, seek a response and bring it back to the member.