Media release – 12 October 2017
A proposal for a project in the vacant Morwell Briquette Factory in Morwell will be a significant economic boost to the Latrobe Valley and provide up to 80 jobs.
PPB Advisory, administrators for HRL Ltd, the former owners of the Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factory, has signed a non-binding Heads of Agreement with Coal Energy Australia for the CarbonTech Project.
Subject to necessary approvals, the project would repurpose existing plant and equipment at the briquette factory, including the re-establishment of drying and briquetting operations. The existing plant would be integrated with new pyrolysis technology to produce a range of valuable carbon products on a commercial basis.
A key component of this project is the establishment of the CEA Cleantech Science and Innovation Hub at the site.
CEA has no interest in acquiring the Morwell Power Station which PPB Advisory proposes to demolish, subject to regulatory approvals, and then remediate the site.
Both companies made submissions to this week’s public hearings by the Heritage Council of Victoria following a request to have the site placed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
While neither company disputes the heritage significance of the site, they both support the demolition of the old power station. CEA won’t proceed with the project if the station remains.
General Manager EBAC Remediation, Barry Dungey, said PPB Advisory’s submission to the heritage council stated the old power station was contaminated and infrastructure was in poor condition.
“The building is in a deteriorating state and contains the majority of asbestos as well as other hazardous materials,” Mr Dungey said. “It is inconceivable there can be any economic and reasonable use of the site in its current condition.
“This is evidenced by the fact there has been no interest in the site, despite an 18-month sales campaign by the administrator PPB Advisory. The potential site sale to CEA is a win-win situation for the Valley and creditors of HRL, but will only be possible if the Power Station is demolished and the site reinstated.”
CEA General Manager Projects, Roland Davies, said the project would see hundreds of millions of dollars invested locally over its life and create a substantial number of ongoing FTE employment opportunities in the Latrobe Valley.
“The project will be significant for the Latrobe Valley, as the recent closure of some local industry has resulted in less job opportunities in the region,” Mr Davies said. “The project will require a broad skillset including semi-skilled labour with operating experience, tradespeople and professional positions.
“Importantly, the project will meet the new emissions standards as prescribed in the Victorian Government’s coal statement.
“Key to this project proceeding however will be the agreement by the Victorian Heritage council to allow the Power Station to be demolished. This was the basis of today’s presentation.”