HRL’s briquetting future undecided

RELATED: Char plant flatlines 

The upcoming decommissioning of Australian Char’s char plant will see Morwell’s Energy Brix’s briquette factory lose one of its biggest customers.

Despite the setback, Energy Brix owner HRL has assured no decisions have been made about the factory’s future, and that of its adjoining power station, which provides steam for the briquetting process.

“We are continuing to review our briquetting operations and market opportunities post 30 June 2014,” HRL said in a statement.

While numerous sources within HRL’s operations have said management continues to flag a June 2014 end date with its workers, few actually believe a shutdown could be so close.

Supplying about 50 briquette customers across Australia, including major power station clients Hazelwood and Loy Yang A – who use the briquettes as a start up fuel, HRL’s operation remains afloat courtesy of a $50 million Federal Government lifeline awarded in 2012.

While the fund was justified to allow its customers to transition to cleaner fuel sources, it appears the plan has had little effect; HRL’s briquette sales for the 2012/13 financial year were at a similar volume to 2011/12.

Managing director of briquette factory-operator Mecrus, Barry Richards, said based on current briquette demand, the factory’s lifespan would stretch well beyond the rumoured June 2014 date.

“A lease on the property runs till the end of August – but there is a renewal option there – as far as we can see our plans are full steam ahead,” Mr Richards said.