500 jobs set to be created at refinery
The Korean-owned Sun Metals zinc refinery in Townsville is ramping up a $400 million expansion of its plant with the number of construction jobs expected to peak at up to 500 in 2020.
Sun Metals, an Australian subsidiary of one of the world's biggest zinc producers Korea Zinc, first announced its expansion plans in 2017, which included development of a $200 million solar farm.
With the solar farm completed, the expansion of the plant was first announced as a $300 million project began last year.
Providing an update, a company spokesman said peak construction would occur in the second half of next year.
"The expansion at Sun Metals is going to ramp up in 2020," the spokesman said.
"Detailed engineering has been completed and civil construction has started on site.
"This means that a number of pieces of equipment have arrived through the Port of Townsville over the last two months."
The spokesman said peak construction would occur in the second half of 2020 when there would be up to 500 construction workers on site involved in a total of one million hours of labour.
"The expanded refinery will be commissioned in early 2021 with a total investment by Sun Metals of approximately $400 million," the spokesman said. The company is investing in the plant to increase zinc recoveries from 88 per cent to 97 per cent.
It is planning to boost annual zinc production from 220,000 to 270,000 tonnes as well as produce other base metals that previously have been shipped to its parent company in South Korea for processing.
Sun Metals director Kathy Danaher told a mining conference in 2019 the technology the company would use was "world-first".
A key part of the project is the expansion of the site's electrolysis plant.
Geotechnical contractor Keller won a competitive tender in late 2018 to provide foundation piling and earthworks.
In total, Keller installed 361 piles at diameters of 750mm, 1.2m and 1.5m, and lengths of 5-17m, for a total of 4610 linear metres.
It also removed around 6000 cubic metres of spoil.
Sun Metals developed its 125MW solar farm in 2017 to meet about one third of its electricity needs.
In 2016 it invested about $50 million to start its own transport company, Townsville Logistics, which now employs 100 people.
The refinery employs about 300 people.