Site choice will test Govt’s regional commitment

Emily AceSouth Western Times

The McGowan Government’s regional development credentials are set to be “severely tested” according to Nationals member for the South West Region Colin Holt MLC, as negotiations begin over the future location of a multi-million dollar lithium refinery.

Kemerton Industrial Park was last week flagged by Kidman Resources as a potential location for the refinery which will process lithium from the company’s Mt Holland lithium mine in the Goldfields.

Other possible locations include the Mungaru Industrial Estate located 20km west of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Kwinana.

Mr Holt said the McGowan Government must step up and advocate for the project to be regionally based, as it has the “potential to create 400 jobs during construction and 380 full-time roles once operational”.

“Labor continues to tell us how they’re all about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ but they are only interested in what happens within the Perth City limits.

“Meanwhile, Labor are sacking public servants and cutting back on Royalties for Regions,” Mr Holt said.

“This will prove a litmus test for Labor and demonstrate whether the Government’s commitment to creating jobs applies to regional people or just for city-based voters.

“With the South West already reeling from the possible loss of the Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters in Bunbury, this refinery represents an exciting opportunity for the region to grow.”

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said securing the refinery would be an “absolute coup” for Kemerton and the Bunbury region, as worldwide demand for lithium is “set to soar” in coming decades.

Mr Punch estimated the refinery would create 200 construction jobs and 180 full-time positions.

“It is no secret our skilled workers are not getting as much work locally as they would like at the moment, and many are working FIFO in remote parts of the state,” Mr Punch said.

“A new refinery would be terrific for creating those local employment opportunities we need.”

Mr Punch said Kemerton had excellent potential to become the “next industrial hub in the South West” and the addition of a new lithium refinery would be a “fantastic outcome for local jobs and our community”.

While Mr Punch expects the Perth and Kalgoorlie options to provide strong competition, he is confident the Bunbury region has plenty to offer.

“I believe our close access to port, wealth of skilled local labour and proximity to Collie’s power supply put us in a good position to make a strong case for Kemerton,” he said.

“I will be discussing the proposed facility with Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston and making sure the Greater Bunbury region puts forward the best possible case to secure the project.”

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