Sun Metals $300m zinc refinery expansion to create hundreds of jobs

Sun Metals Corporation (SMC) will deliver hundreds of jobs to Queensland following state government approval of a $300 million expansion to its refinery near Townsville.

Sun Metals owner Korea Zinc Company will invest $300 million in the refinery, enabling an increase to annual production of 50,000 tonnes to 270,000 tonnes.

About 30 per cent of the site’s electricity needs will be provided by a $200 million solar farm opened by Sun Metals in August.

To enable this, around 350 jobs are expected to be filled during construction of the expansion, followed by another 100 permanent operational jobs once the expansion is completed in the first half of 2021.

Korea Zinc chief executive officer Yun Choi announced the development in Townsville on Friday alongside Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Sun Metals chief financial officer Kathy Danaher.

Palaszczuk visited South Korea last month on a trade mission to finalise the deal with Korea Zinc.

“SMC has consistently said the key to making today’s (Friday) announcement was working out logistics around port access and access to the road network, thanks to the leadership of the Premier, those issues have now been resolved,” said Choi.

“This announcement is great news for Townsville and also the greater Townsville region as we expect the expansion will have a significant impact to the regional economy.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the city of Townsville would reap the rewards of this investment.

“It’s another example of resources doing the heavy lifting when it comes to underpinning the economies of regional cities and Townsville will continue to benefit with the recently announced investments into the Galilee Basin,” Macfarlane said.

“Zinc is a key ingredient in alkaline batteries and with Christmas upon us it’s a timely reminder not to forget to buy batteries if your Christmas presents need them and think of the old zinc cream on the nose at the beach.”

The expansion announcement follows the opening of SMC’s 125-megawatt solar farm in August.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart noted that the solar farm was one of the largest in the southern hemisphere and the biggest in Australia.

“The $200 million solar facility will produce up to one-third of the refinery’s energy needs ensuring the viability of the existing plant and supporting the expansion,” Stewart said.

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