EPA approves 18 month magnesium demonstration plant

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has approved a proposed demonstration plant that will trial producing magnesium and other industrial materials from brown coal power station waste.

The proposed Latrobe Magnesium Limited facility would be built in the industrial precinct at 320 Tramway Road, south of Morwell.

EPA has granted a Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) approval that includes a list of legally enforceable conditions to protect the environment and the community.

The proposal is for a pilot plant that would use 24,000 tonnes per year of fly-ash from the Yallourn Power Station to produce 3,000 tonnes of magnesium metal. The fly-ash is a waste product from the burning of brown coal and would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Latrobe Magnesium also plans to investigate the reuse of the wastes produced, in road construction and the production of steel, agricultural fertiliser, barbecue fuel and cement. This will require additional approvals from EPA.

The EPA (RD&D) approval allows the construction and operation of the demonstration plant, subject to strict conditions covering:

• design of the plant

• environmental management

• sampling/testing and reporting to EPA

• control of noise, stormwater, air quality, odour and any emissions

• prevention of land or groundwater contamination

• emergency response plans

• prompt reporting of any non-compliance

The EPA RD&D approval also requires the company to provide a detailed decommissioning plan for the closure and removal of the facility after 18 months.

Construction of the plant is proposed to start in March 2021, with completion by March 2022. Commissioning of the plant is expected to begin in March 2022.

Results gained through the demonstration plant are intended to inform the design of any potential future commercial-scale facility.

The EPA RD&D approval is not the final step for the proposed facility, although it has already been given planning approval by the Latrobe City Council.

The company hosted a community information session in Traralgon during December 2019, and has advised EPA of its plans for more public sessions, information materials, a regular email newsletter and stakeholder briefings.

The applicant has also established a dedicated website latrobemagnesium.com where members of the public can provide comments or request information.

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