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Burrup urea project hinges on IR outcome

PROVIDING industrial relations problems do not interfere, the Burrup Fertilisers project on the Burrup Peninsula could go from being a $630 million job to one worth $1.9 billion.

The company, promoted by the New Delhi-based Oswal Projects, is 40 per cent of the way through the construction of its liquid ammonium plant and, barring any industrial action on the project, could also build a $1.3 billion urea and ammonium plant in WA.

Burrup Fertilisers chairman Pankjat Oswal said while this plant would be one of the largest such plants in the world, it was only a litmus test for the company.

“If this project gets built on time and on budget we’ll be looking at building an ammonium and urea complex,” he said.

“That’s about $1.3 billion.”

Mr Oswal confirmed that the second plant would be built in WA, providing he was satisfied with the construction of the current Burrup Fertilisers plant.

If there is excessive industrial disputation and the project experiences cost overruns, the second plant could go to the Middle East.

“We have been receiving letters of invitation from Dubai,” Mr Oswald said.

“Wherever there is gas, that’s where we go.”

Dubai will soon be receiving gas piped in from Qatar.

Mr Oswal said his company’s concerns related to the Western Australian Government and the industrial relations climate in the State.

“The Government is saying we should sign an enterprise bargaining agreement with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and they will take care of it,” he said.

Mr Oswal is most apprehensive about dealing with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

He said his first introduction to industrial relations in WA was the battle between Woodside and the CFMEU over access to workers on Train 4.

Mr Oswal said unions had not been involved with the job so far because the current stage of works was being undertaken by BGC.

However, he said he was concerned the CFMEU would gain access to the site when it came time for the metal workers to start.

Metal workers are covered by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and that union has entered into an agreement with CFMEU that it will only sign on to site agreements if the CFMEU is also involved in the project.

State Development Minister Clive Brown told WA Business News that the Government had not told Mr Oswal to sign on to any EBA.

Mr Brown said he was trying to get an IR framework in place that both the company and the unions could be happy with.

Negotiations regarding that framework, which will contain an EBA, are ongoing.

“If Burrup Fertilisers decided to pick up that framework, we would back them up,” Mr Brown said.

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