Largest mercury treatment plant in Aus opens in Karratha
Contract Resources has opened its $20 million hazardous waste treatment plant in Karratha’s Gap Ridge industrial estate.
The plant is the largest hazardous waste recycling and processing facility in the southern hemisphere, and is capable of treating all of Australia’s mercury contaminated waste.
Woodside has signed on as a foundation customer and Contract Resources is in discussions with other companies about using the facility.
Contract Resources chief executive Adam Machon said Karratha’s proximity to the oil and gas industry made it the ideal location.
“This is a state-of-the-art investment in our capability and ability to solve a significant problem for our clients which is the mercury contamination of by-product created as a result of oil and gas,” he said.
“It is fair and reasonable that this contaminate is dealt with in an ethical manner on Australian shores.
“Australia is currently a net importer of mercury and what this does is change the supply dynamic.”
My Machon said the plant and other services at Contract Resources’ Karratha site employed about 50 regular staff, with an ability to grow to more than 500 subject to demand.
The plant works by heating the contaminated by-product under vacuum. The waste is then directly heated to about 700 degrees before being purified ready for sale to the Australian market where it can be used in applications such as dental amalgam.
Woodside chief financial officer Sherry Duhe said Woodside stood to gain environmental and logistics efficiency from using the facility.
“What this will provide for us is a local option in the Pilbara for us to process our mercury guard beds,” she said.
“Previously our alternative was to send them all the way to Switzerland via 11 different countries.”
WA Senator Mathias Cormann environmentally responsible management of mercury contaminated waste was a key issue for the oil and gas industry.
“The Contract Resources Gap Ridge facility will support Australia’s aim of reducing mercury pollution, allowing us to meet our obligation under the Minamarta convention which may also be ratified in coming years.,” he said.
“It is a testament to the ambition of Contract Resources.”
Mr Cormann said the plant would provide growth and employment opportunities in Karratha.
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