08/07/2003 - 22:00

Tourism, training boost for Peel

08/07/2003 - 22:00

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ALCOA’S planned upgraded of its Pinjarra alumina refinery will boost not only alumina production, but also jobs and tourism in the Peel region.

Tourism, training boost for Peel

ALCOA’S planned upgraded of its Pinjarra alumina refinery will boost not only alumina production, but also jobs and tourism in the Peel region.

While most Peel tourism is centred around Mandurah, Peel Development Commission chief executive officer Maree De Lacey said the significant economic impacts of the Alcoa expansion could enhance tourism in general.

Community engagement in the upgrade, and the flow-through effect of 1,000 new jobs, would enliven business activity and produce potential tourism opportunities, she said.

Other key regional priorities – education, employment and training – would also benefit from Alcoa’s plans, with business and community growth providing more real jobs for school-leavers, Ms De Lacey said.

Alcoa had already contributed to the training needs of the Peel region, conducting specialist programs for women, Aboriginal people and those with disabilities.

Alcoa is seeking approval from the State Government for a $400 million efficiency upgrade to its Pinjarra alumina refinery.

The refinery already directly employs 1,000 people, but up to 1,000 additional jobs would be created during the upgrade construction phase, Alcoa World Alumina Australia managing director Wayne Osborn said.

He said the upgrade would boost annual alumina production at the plant by 600,000 tonnes, bringing total annual output to four million tonnes, and increasing annual export revenue by $160 million.

Alcoa spent $A1.1 billion in the Peel and South West regions each year, Mr Osborn said.

While gaining the necessary approvals, Alcoa will carry out an engineering study, to enable the two-year construction phase to commence during summer.

Mr Osborn would not comment on when or where Alcoa would progress any further expansion in the South West, nor divulge the destination of the additional Pinjarra alumina output.

World demand is tipped to increase significantly, with China’s increasing consumption expected to underpin much of this.

Global consumption is forecast to increase by 5 per cent this year and next, and then by a further 3 per cent each year until at least 2008.

By 2005, consumption is expected to outpace production, for at least two years.

However, from this year, operations in Brazil, Jamaica and China are expected to have new capacity.

Expansion at Alcoa’s Wagerup facility, dogged by environmental concerns, was inappropriate at present, Mr Osborn conceded.

“Regaining Wagerup confidence is of the highest priority,” he said.

And the Pinjarra operation was the “right size” expansion for Alcoa’s current needs.

Pinjarra is claimed to be one of the world’s most successful and cost efficient alumina refineries, but significantly, Alcoa has pledged to progress the operation with plenty of community input, and “within a sustainable framework”.

At last week’s announcement, Alcoa also signed several agreements with Alinta for a $100 million gas-fired cogeneration electricity plant within the refinery operations.

These agreements – for steam supply, land sale and operations and maintenance – advance Alinta’s plans to enter the electricity retail market in WA.

Alinta is planning for up to 10 cogeneration plants.

For Pinjarra – the first of these – it has signed on 110 MW of custom.

The full success of such cogeneration ventures would depend on the WA Government’s delivery of electricity market reform, including the disaggregation of Western Power, Alinta chairman Tony Howarth said.

The cogeneration facility is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Pinjarra refinery by 10 per cent per tonne of alumina produced.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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