South Australia has supported the transformation of Port Pirie’s metal processing facilities with a commercial financial arrangement that acknowledged both the importance of the strategic investment within Nyrstar's global operations and the capacity to achieve better environmental and health outcomes for an important regional centre in the state’s mid-north.

The South Australian Government’s role in the multi-million dollar Port Pirie Transformation is being led by the Department for Energy and Mining Major Projects business unit and has delivered coordinated action across government to give Port Pirie’s smelting operations every chance to modernise in response to community demands for better environmental standards.

There is regular liaison with Nyrstar on the progress of the Port Pirie Transformation and the implications for the financial agreement initially reached with Nyrstar in 2015 and updated with Nyrstar’s new majority owner, international commodities trader Trafigura.

The South Australian Government has already:

  • Authorised Trafigura’s takeover of Nyrstar as a majority owner as part of a capital restructure that converted Nyrstar’s perpetual securities to guaranteed secured debt
  • Reached a commercial financing agreement that secured the compulsory repayment of the remaining money owed under a $291.25 million tax-payer guaranteed loan
  • Provided regulatory certainty to Nyrstar through the enacting by State Parliament of the Port Pirie Smelting Facility (Lead-In-Air Concentrations) Act 2013 to regulate the variations of environmental conditions related to lead emissions
  • Supported the Targeted Lead Abatement Program (TLAP) to ensure that children from birth to four years of age living in Port Pirie have the lowest possible blood lead levels. The government and Nyrstar are implementing recommendations of a review of the program.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia in 2020 issued a one-year licence to Nyrstar Port Pirie that reduced the lead-in-air limits by 20%. These limits have been continued in the current licence.

As the ramp up of the new plant nears completion, the EPA plans to issue a longer term licence that reflects the ability of the new multi-metals processing and recovery facility to achieve lower emissions and the community’s expectations for improved environmental standards.

In 2021:

  • Nyrstar announced it will invest in the construction of a new $23 million product recycling facility at its Port Pirie plant that will significantly reduce lead in air concentrations measured in the local community by up to 25%. This project has been brought forward with state government support of $7 million towards the cost of the facility.
  • The Government of South Australia and Nyrstar released the response to the recommendations from a review of TLAP. The response and status of implementing the recommendations is available on the TLAP website.

Nyrstar site contamination audit report

Nyrstar Australia has submitted a site contamination audit report for the Port Pirie smelter to the EPA as required under its Voluntary Site Contamination Assessment Proposal. The report has shown the presence of heavy metals including cadmium and lead, and very low concentrations of uranium.

The EPA will review the audit report and will then place the document in the public register on the EPA website.

More information

For more information about the Port Pirie transformation contact:

Phone: +61 8 8463 3000