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Avon industry park brings new life

The Avon Valley now has its own industrial park which is set to make a positive impact on employment and social development in the Wheatbelt region.

The brain child of the Avon Community Development Found-ation, the area has been ten years in the planning.

The 467 hectare park is owned by LandCorp and zoned industrial by the Shire of Northam.

Situated eighteen kilometres east of Northam on the Great Eastern Highway at Meenaar, the new industrial park happened because the community wanted it.

On-site construction of the first industries should commence in June with operations underway early in 2001.

To date, six potential industries have registered interest in the site.

Meenaar Advisory Board chairman Paul Tomlinson said strong community support had been a significant factor in attracting these proponents.

Queensland-based agricultural chemical manufacturer Binary Chemicals Pty Ltd recently visited Northam.

The company has been operating for three years on the east coast and already has significant market share throughout the Wheatbelt region.

During the visit, the company registered its interest and intends to duplicate its Queensland plant in Meenaar as soon as possible.

There are already indications associated activities will relocate to Meenaar to be accessible to the Binary plant.

The Ashton Mining/Lynas Gold Rare Earths joint venture plans to sign off on its processing plant in Meenaar by October.

By then, the project will have been more than nine years in the planning with $14 million spent on the feasibility process.

To take advantage of forward contracts and export opportunities, Ashton/Lynas must be operational by February 2002. Estimated potential export revenue is $100 million per annum.

Like Binary Chemicals, the rare earths venture will no doubt attract support industries.

Mr Tomlinson said the Avon Industrial Park was the jewel in the crown of the Avon region, “providing Northam and the Avon Valley with an invaluable fillip for a positive future of growth”.

With the rare earths processing plant and Binary Chemicals expected to be under construction soon, Mr Tomlinson estimates 220 new direct jobs will be created within two years.

“The number of indirect jobs created throughout the region

cannot be estimated but is thought to be substantial,” he said.

“All proponents have indicated a strong desire to hire and buy locally.”

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