Port Pirie smelter costs rise 10 per cent

The cost to redevelop Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter has increased by about 10 per cent to $563 million, according to the company.

Nyrstar said in a statement that, despite the $49 million increase in costs, the project is still on schedule for completion late next year.

“The projected cost to complete the project, firmed up by the completion of engineering work, denominated in Australian dollars, has been impacted by adverse foreign exchange movements and additional engineering and project management services required,” the statement read.

$291 million of the cost of the redevelopment has been underwritten by the South Australian government.

The project is significant, largely because of the fact that it will greatly reduce lead emissions from the plant. The South Australian city of Port Pirie has been affected by high lead levels in residents for many years. This poses significant health problems, especially for children.

As the ABC reports, South Australian Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis pointed out that Nysrstar is responsible for covering the extra project costs.

"A 10 per cent overrun isn't unusual on a project of this scale and complexity, which Nyrstar has assured shareholders partly reflects fluctuations in the Australian dollar exchange rate," he said.

"The State Government's guarantee remains at $291 million."

Apart from upgrades to the smelter's efficiency and environmental friendliness, a 10-year, $50 million lead abatement program is also being carried out.

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