Port Pirie Smelter

Mr PEDERICK ( Hammond ) ( 12:34 ): I want to speak to the motion:

That this house—

1. Recognises and congratulates the Port Pirie smelter on achieving its 125th anniversary of operation;

2. Recognises the significant contribution that this facility has made—

(a) towards the provision of materials for the Allies during World War II;

(b) to the economic and financial security of the Port Pirie community and the surrounding regions; and

(c) to the benefit of South Australia as a whole.

The Port Pirie smelter has certainly been an icon in the Mid to Far North. It has around 750 employees and it smelts a variety of products, including precious metals, a copper plant and a zinc plant, obviously lead, copper cathode, gold and sulfuric acid. It does have an impact across the state and over the border, obviously, into Broken Hill. I know one of my local trucking companies from Coomandook has carted much material from Broken Hill down to Port Pirie. I also want to acknowledge that most of the ore that came out of the Terramin mine at Strathalbyn went to Port Pirie to be smelted, so having this type of facility within reach of getting these products refined for export has far-reaching implications.

I have been up there a couple of times to look around, and I have been through the facility. As the latest owners, Nyrstar have been very good in giving us briefings, especially in regard to the upgrade that is being commissioned. They have been great guides, and it is good to see what they are doing with the lead and those big silver ingots that come out of there. Over the 125 years, the smelter has been a real boon for the Port Pirie region and for the greater part of South Australia. Not only are jobs there affected but so are jobs right throughout the state in the mining field and over the border, in the Broken Hill region.

I declare a very small interest in that my wife, when she was an environmental scientist working for Kinhill when Pasminco owned the smelter, did a bit of environmental work—

Members interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: Yes, she always makes sure I am very careful with the environment.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan: A small footprint.

Mr PEDERICK: That's exactly right, member for Stuart, I do have a small footprint on the earth—very gentle. Obviously lead, and the smelting of lead, is something that does have to be managed extremely well because, as we know in this place, it is the children—the very young children especially—who are the ones who are first affected if operations are not completed appropriately. We know there have been some issues around the smelter where they have struggled to get the limit of the micrograms per—

The Hon. G.G. Brock: Decilitre.

Mr PEDERICK: —decilitre—thank you, member for Frome—down below 10. When the Strathalbyn lead mine was being proposed and debated, environmental work had to be done in that area. Obviously, if there is a lead mine, there is a high background level of lead, so there had to be work done in regard to the background level of lead in the region and a lot of work done in regard to environmental monitoring to make sure things were managed. I know how it is managed at the smelter as well, where people change their clothes there and do not take home the clothes that are covered in lead because that has caused problems in the past, with the lead affecting children of smelter workers, and that is why they used the same practice at the Terramin mine at Strathalbyn. I certainly do commend this motion, and it would have happened whichever government was in power; we certainly would have delivered on this. I will not see it, but I hope the smelter celebrates its 250th anniversary one day.

The Hon. G.G. Brock: We won't be here.

Mr PEDERICK: We won't be here. That's right, member for Frome, but it certainly is a real economic generator for the region and for the state, and I commend the motion to the house.