Nyrstar secures Tasmanian smelter future

Nyrstar has signed an agreement to invest in its Tasmanian smelter, as the company announces a new Australian CEO.

The company has signed a binding agreement for a $52 million investment at the Hobart smelter.

The funding will be used for four growth projects at the site, two of which are focused on increasing its capacity to treat more complex concentrates.

These projects have already begun and will be commissioned in the second half of the year.

“The remaining projects relate to the upgrade of materials handling equipment and the addition of a side-leach plant that will enable the smelter to treat zinc oxide from Nyrstar Port Pirie, splitting base metals (Zinc and Lead) from minor metals (Indium and Germanium), enhancing the site's operational link with Nyrstar Port Pirie and the broader global Metals Processing network,” Nyrstar said in a company statement.

This agreement was modelled on a similar agreement struck between Nyrstar and the South Australian Government.

"The agreement reached between Nyrstar and the Tasmanian Government to invest in the Nyrstar Hobart smelter represents another important step forward in Nyrstar's Metals Processing transformation and in achieving our stated mission to maximise value from our integrated metals processing and mining business," Nyrstar senior vice-president metals processing and chief development officer, Michael Morley, said.

According to the Tasmanian Government this agreement will secure 600 direct jobs at the smelter, as well as 3500 indirect jobs that are dependent on the smelter.

"Nyrstar is a vital part of Tasmania’s economy, contributing around $800 million towards Tasmania’s Gross State Product and 24 per cent of Tasmania’s total export value," Tasmanian minister for state growth, Matthew Groom, said.

 "Every year, Nyrstar pumps around $70 million into the Hobart economy through wages paid to employees and contractors.

"Not only will this agreement secure Nyrstar’s future in Tasmania, it will also unlock a $52 million investment that will expand Nyrstar’s capacity, which in turn will create an additional 125 jobs during the construction phase alone and up to 20 new jobs at the smelter once the upgrades are complete."

Nyrstar will borrow $29 million from EFIC for the funding, with the Tasmanian Government acting as a guarantor for the loan, with the guarantee to be in place untl February 2019.

"In addition to facilitating the transformation projects, I can announce today that the Government and Nyrstar will also jointly fund a $10 million project aimed at groundwater remediation to reduce Nyrstar’s impact on the environment," Groom said.

"The Government will provide up to $5 million on a dollar-for-dollar basis.  Both Nyrstar and the Government have an obligation to work together to reduce the impact on the environment."

On this back of this funding agreement the company also announced the appointment of Bill Scotting as its new CEO.

Scotting will step into the role from 17 August.

He moves into the position from ArcelorMittal, where he was the chief mining executive.

Scotting started his career as a metallurgist in Newcastle.

Commenting on the appointment, Nyrstar chairman Julien De Wilde said: “After a comprehensive global search, Bill Scotting was the obvious choice to lead Nyrstar in the next stage of its journey.  His track record of solving complex issues, creating value and deep sector knowledge gives him the tools to focus on improving operational excellence at the mines, delivering the Port Pirie Redevelopment and working with Nyrstar's senior management team to re-introduce the stability we need to deliver and create value for our shareholders.”

Scotting replaces Heinz Eigner, Nyrstar's CFO, who has been acting CEO since November last year.

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