Big builder takes a shine to Sun pro­ject

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS LEES christo­[email protected]

THE prospect of ac­tual jobs from the Sun Met­als ex­pan­sion pro­ject is get­ting closer, with na­tional con­struc­tion com­pany Wat­pac look­ing to be­come in­volved.

Wat­pac is seek­ing sub­con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers to work on the $300 mil­lion ex­pan­sion of the Townsville zinc re­fin­ery.

It’s un­der­stood that by ten- de­r­ing for com­pa­nies to work with it, Wat­pac, which is also build­ing the Townsville Sta­dium, will try to win the re­fin­ery con­tract.

Ten­ders for work­ing with Wat­pac close on Jan­uary 25.

A Sun Met­als spokesman said the com­pany had started the ten­der­ing process for the plant ex­pan­sion an­nounced in De­cem­ber.

“The first ten­der, re­lat­ing to the civil works, has gone out and closes on Jan­uary 31,” he said.

The ex­pan­sion is due to be fin­ished in the first half of 2021.

Act­ing Premier Cameron Dick said the ex­pan­sion was a “jobs bo­nanza” for Townsville and the re­gion.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to see the ‘wanted’ ads in the paper for some of the 350 jobs which will be cre­ated dur­ing con­struc­tion to get the pro­ject un­der way,” he said.

“There will also be around 100 ad­di­tional per­ma­nent re­fin­ery and lo­gis­tic work­ers once op­er­a­tional.

“The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing jobs in re­gional Queens­land and this ex­pan­sion de­mon- strates con­fi­dence in the North Queens­land econ­omy and its work­force.”

Townsville Cham­ber of Com­merce CEO MarieClaude Brown said the open ten­ders was a “sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward”.

“Sun Met­als has been a quite achiever in the re­gion for many, many years,” she said.

“They have been very con­sis­tent em­ploy­ers and they have de­cided to in­vest and back them­selves.”

Ms Brown said other com­pa­nies should take a look at Sun Met­als as an ex­am­ple of a com­pany that con­tin­ued to in­vest in re­gional Aus­tralia and em­ploy lo­cal peo­ple.

“They are very good at pur­chas­ing lo­cally too,” she said.

The re­fin­ery’s ex­pan­sion will in­crease in­got pro­duc­tion by about 20 per cent.

The price of zinc had a poor fin­ish to the year, drop­ping by 23 per cent from the first quar­ter of last year com­pared with the last quar­ter of the year, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank.

How­ever, it sta­bilised in the back end of the year.

Wat­pac did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

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