Taking shape: Tenders underway to build magnesium trial plant

The artist’s impression of the magnesium plant slated for Hazelwood North. image supplied

By MICHELLE SLATER

Tenders are underway to build a $50 million magnesium trial plant on Tramway Road in Hazelwood North that will convert coal ash from the Yallourn coal mine into 3000 tonnes of magnesium.
Latrobe Magnesium is confident that the plant should be ready for construction early next year to start production by the end of 2022.
LMG chief executive officer David Paterson told The Express Melbourne-based company Mincore had been appointed to manage  engineering, procurement and construction.
Mr Paterson said the company had put out tenders to clear the site, refurbish the office and amenities blocks and plan electrical works.
He said contracts were being prioritised to local companies, with an estimated 75 onsite jobs when construction began.
A local contractor has begun work on fencing and gate repairs, and scoping for onsite works has been completed.
“This will employ locals, there is enough structural engineering capabilities in the Valley for this work, they are very good at this,” he said.
“We hope to keep these people on to operate it, depending on these skills. We are looking at 50 jobs. If they built it, they would probably be the best people to operate it.”
Mr Paterson said the company had also rented a house in Traralgon for its Melbourne project team to stay in when in the Valley.
He said one of the key project  milestones was on track to secure a spray roaster, which equated to 30 per cent of the plant’s capital and was being sought from either Europe or Asia.
“This is a long-lead time item. We want the site to be ready for when equipment starts arriving, this will take about six months to install and three months to commission,” he said.
Latrobe Magnesium is building the trial plant to produce magnesium in a world-first patented extraction process.
If the trial is successful, the plant will upscale to produce 40,000 tonne of magnesium a year. It has secured 20 years of coal ash supply from EnergyAustralia to feed the plant, with further proposals to secure ash from Hazelwood, depending on rehabilitation plans.
LMG plans to sell the refined magnesium under long-term contracts to United States and Japanese customers.