Demo plant impresses Ferguson

IF Latrobe Resources’ new Loy Yang A-based briquette demonstration plant achieves its objectives then serious job opportunities should emerge, a Federal Minister said this week.

In a visit to the Latrobe Valley, Federal Resources, Energy and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said he had met with Latrobe Resources owners in Canberra in recent weeks and said “if they achieve their ambition, I was absolutely surprised about the potential employment numbers out of that investment”.

Mr Ferguson said the company’s ambition was to “export coal out of the Valley by the end of this calendar year” and if its larger coal export objectives were realised, the venture would prove “very labour intensive, including a whole variety of jobs not only in mining and processing, but also in transportation”.

Mr Ferguson said a number of companies had spoken to him about the potential for clean coal technologies and coal export from the Valley “which is unheralded and, if we get this right, you are going to create export opportunities out of the Valley about new clean coal technology that’s as relevant to India as it is to the Latrobe Valley because of the similar nature of the ignite.”

Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen was more circumspect in his expectations of Latrobe Resources. He told The Express, in his view, “certainly some small export could take place” in the near future but any large scale operation would be subject to numerous variables including major transport infrastructure needs yet to be addressed.

“Wherever you look, there needs to be development,” he said, referring to the absence of a direct railway line from this region to the state government’s proposed Port Hastings project, and a need for improved road access to Port Anthony as well as further development of that port.

“The minister said we should be lobbying for improved highway infrastructure, but there is a lot to do and this is part of a long-term economic approach,” Mr Vermeulen said.