Green hydrogen project aimed at Port Pirie

Trafigura, Nyrstar and SA government link for alternative fuel initiative

Green hydrogen project aimed at Port Pirie
Port Pirie’s smelter


International concerns are eyeing the construction of a strategically positioned commercial-scale green hydrogen manufacturing facility in Port Pirie.

If hydrogen does take off as a heavy-vehicle or locomotive alternative fuel, the Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project’s (PPGHP’s) position near freight-route crossings may well prove attractive to potential customers.

That would likely be only after heavy-industry needs are met. And then there is the export market. But before that, there will be construction transport and logistics to be undertaken.

The PPGHP initiative is a joint effort by global commodity trading firm Trafigura, steel producer Nyrstar and the South Australian government.

A $5 million front end engineering design (FEED) study, funded jointly by Trafigura and the state government, will begin immediately, with a final investment decision to be made by the end of 2022.

If approved, construction will start in 2023.

At an estimated design and construction cost of $750 million, the project, if approved, is to be developed in a phased manner, initially producing 20 tonnes per day (tpd) of green hydrogen for export in the form of green ammonia.

"The full-scale plant will produce 100tpd of green hydrogen at full capacity from a 440MW electrolyser, enabling it to meet both export and domestic supply needs," the partners said.

"The oxygen created in the production of hydrogen will be utilised by the Nyrstar Port Pirie smelter."

The plan is for the project to be integrated into Nyrstar Australia’s metals recovery smelter at Port Pirie, using existing infrastructure to accelerate production of green hydrogen compared to developing a project on a new greenfield site.

Read about NSW's green hydrogen fuel plan, here

The project will form the cornerstone of a new green hydrogen precinct in Port Pirie that will benefit local businesses and support the decarbonisation of transport and industry.

Trafigura will source 100% renewable energy to provide the electricity needed to run the project’s electrolyser, which will also contribute to decarbonising the existing smelter’s power supply.

Trafigura general manager – Australia Tim Rogers said that the company was increasing its global presence in the renewable energy sector, and that the project created a unique opportunity for the Spencer Gulf to participate in the growth of a new energy industry, creating the next generation of jobs for local communities.

"We are encouraged by governments’ support of the hydrogen industry," Rogers added.

"With both state and federal government support, the Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project has the potential to be a catalyst for new jobs and economic growth in the region, creating opportunities for existing local businesses to become part of the supply chain, attracting new talent, and encouraging new companies and industries to establish a local presence."

"We are expecting significant early interest in becoming a part of the green hydrogen precinct with early potential for the region’s heavy vehicle transport industry to investigate hydrogen refuelling options.

"In time, it is also expected that Trafigura will be working with mining and other energy-intensive industries across the state to explore the opportunities the precinct creates for them to decarbonise through the use of green hydrogen."

According to Nyrstar vice-president Australian operations Dale Webb, the PPGHP would enable its business to take a significant step in improving its competitiveness in the international market for zinc, lead and other metals that it produces from its interconnected Port Pirie and Hobart smelters.

"As a leading multi-metals manufacturer, producing and recycling vital metals required for the energy transition, Nyrstar Australia needs to remain competitive on the global stage, on cost and in terms of carbon intensity," Webb said.  

"The Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project will meet this challenge head on by delivering renewable energy and oxygen to prove that we can decarbonise a heavy industrial facility and at the same time ensure more efficient and cost-effective production of low carbon metals for the world.

"This will create a positive differentiator for our products with international customers, and help underpin a stronger, more secure, more sustainable future for Nyrstar Australia."

South Australian premier Steven Marshall asserted the PPGHP will be integral to South Australia’s transformation into a leading global producer of green hydrogen.

"My Government is pleased to contribute to the front end engineering design and support Trafigura and Nyrstar’s plans to create a new green hydrogen precinct that delivers jobs and business growth in the Spencer Gulf," Marshall said.


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