11/09/2007 - 22:00

Developments in water and wood

11/09/2007 - 22:00

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While Western Australia is witnessing a boom in mining and resources projects, several major non-mining projects, with a combined value of almost $2 billion, are also in the pipeline.

Developments in water and wood

While Western Australia is witnessing a boom in mining and resources projects, several major non-mining projects, with a combined value of almost $2 billion, are also in the pipeline.  

With its $387 million Perth Seawater Desalination plant in Kwinana officially opening in April this year, the Water Corporation is now focused on getting its second Southern Seawater Desalination plant, slated for the South West coastal town of Binningup, off the ground, despite community resistance.

Announced in May this year by Premier Alan Carpenter, the plant will produce about 50 gigalitres of drinking water a year, with the potential to increase to 100GL. 

The project will also include 30 kilometres of pipelines to connect the new water source to the Integrated Water Supply System.
This week, the Water Corporation will commence its tender process for the supply of 200 gigawatt hours of renewable energy to power the plant.

Construction is expected to commence in 2009 and will be completed in 2011, with the new plant beginning operation by late 2011.

The Albany timber precinct of Mirambeena, in addition to hosting a number of proposed bioenergy projects, is set to host a variety of timber value-adding industries.

More than $600 million of investment planned for the precinct. The biggest is Lignor's proposed $300 million engineered strand lumber plant.

Construction of the facility was expected to commence immediately after the completion of the capital raising program in 2009.

In July, however, the company announced it would review its funding options after failing to meet its deadline for the completion of a $125 million public share offer, following the successful raising of $210 million through a convertible bond issue to Australian and overseas institutions.

The company said it would consider the possible use of private equity.

Lignor has already locked in supply contracts from the Forest Products Commission, Integrated Tree Cropping and Great Southern Ltd, and last month received a boost from the state government, which announced it would contribute $8.6 million towards infrastructure services for the plant.

Also slated for Mirambeena is the development of a wood pellet manufacturing facility by Nedlands-based Plantation Energy, the first of its kind in Australia.

Widely manufactured and used throughout Europe and Asia, wood pellets have a variety of domestic and industrial applications, from domestic heating, to co-firing with coal to reduce carbon emissions at little additional capital cost.

The Albany plant will produce185,000 tonnes of wood pellets each year, using about 250,000t of the feedstock sourced from local blue gum harvest residues.

Plantation Energy managing director Gavin Harper told WA Business News last month the company had raised enough seed capital to develop the Albany operation, and was currently preparing its initial public offering to raise further capital to fund its expansion plans.

Site preparations have already begun, with production expected to start by April next year.

In the metropolitan area, Tiwest – a joint venture between US company Tronox Incorporated and South African Exxaro Resources Ltd – is planning a $45 million expansion of its titanium dioxide plant.

The project will expand the Kwinana titanium dioxide plant from its current capacity by 40,000-50,000t, on top of its current capacity of 110,000t.

Perth-based Proteus Engineers has been selected as the contracting engineer for the project, which is expected to be ready to deliver the additional capacity by 2009.

A Tiwest spokesperson said the expansion was making good progress, with preliminary engineering on track and regulatory approvals being progressed.  

Work has already begun at the site of BGC’s clay brick manufacturing plant at South Guildford which, when completed, will have the capacity to produce 110 million standard brick equivalents a year.

BGC is planning to have completed commissioning of the plant by December 2008.

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