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SASE Whyalla smelter delivers jobs to Regional South Australia.

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24 November 2000            00/540 

SASE WHYALLA SMELTER DELIVERS JOBS TO REGIONAL SOUTH AUSTRALIA  Minister for Industry, Sciences and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin has welcomed the announcement by AuIron Energy that the $16 million South Australian Steel and Energy (SASE) Demonstration Plant at Whyalla has begun production of pig iron. 

The joint partners involved in the SASE project include AuIron Energy 90%,

Ausmelt 5% and Krakatau 5% and the plant has been developed in conjunction with Thiess Contractors and Corus. 

Development of the demonstration smelter and its successful trialing was made possible by a $6.5 million R&D Start grant awarded by the Commonwealth Government in 1999 

Senator Minchin said the commencement of operations of the smelter was an important project for the Upper Spencer Gulf and northern South Australia regions providing new investment, jobs and infrastructure. 

"The project represents a combination of Australian innovation, resourcefulness and commercial vision which together with considerable support from both the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments". 

The technology invented by Ausmelt and being used and developed by SASE is a cost effective smelting method using local feed stock materials regardless of quality and reducing transport costs. 

This ideally positions South Australia as a world competitive smelting location because of its access to vast iron ore and coal deposits within the same region. 

SASE expects that with the successful completion of its demonstration plant some

$1 billion will have been invested in a full-scale plant, coal and iron ore mines and infrastructure with construction possibly to begin during 2001. 

The company has indicated the commercial smelter and associated mines will create as many as 500 permanent jobs and another 1,500 indirect jobs. 

At current spot pig iron prices, potential annual export revenue from a 2.5 million tonne per annum SASE plant would be worth $500 million. 

The Demonstration Plant's operating program is planned to extend over at least the next four months allowing operating parameters to be optimised and useful data for full-scale plant feasibility to be gathered. 

"The successful proof of this technology will allow access to substantial resources such as high phosphorus iron ore that could not be processed using existing technology, unlocking further growth opportunities for Australia ", Senator Minchin said. 

In addition to the grant, the project has been given Major Project Facilitation Status and continues to assist the project through government approvals processes for its full scale commercial plant. 

"Invest Australia, within my Department, has had an officer dedicated to progressing and implementing a strategy for making a case which identified investment potential in the Upper Spencer Gulf region", Senator Minchin said.   

Contact:  Jennifer Eddy, Senator Minchin's office, 02 6277 7580

             Dan Steiner, Invest Australia, 02 6213 7532 


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