Swiss trader plans $750 million green hydrogen plant in South Australia


The world’s largest private metals trader Trafigura has teamed with metals manufacturer Nyrstar to progress plans to construct a commercial-scale green hydrogen manufacturing facility capable of producing 100 tonnes of green hydrogen per day in South Australia to target both domestic and export markets.

Trafigura said the project is to be developed in a phased manner with an 85 MW electrolyser to be installed in the first stage. It is expected it would produce about 20 tonnes per day of green hydrogen which would be converted to ammonia for export and use by shipping, domestic transport and supporting the proposed Port Pirie Industrial Precinct.

The second stage would deliver a 440 MW electrolyser which at full capacity would be capable of producing 100 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, enabling it to meet both export and domestic supply needs.

Nystar, which operates the lead and zinc smelter at Port Pirie, would use the oxygen produced from the electrolyser process in its smelting operations.

Trafigura announced this week that a $5 million Front End Engineering Design study for the Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project would commence immediately. The engineering will be jointly funded by Trafigura and the South Australia Government.

A final investment decision on the Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project will be made by the end of 2022 and if approved, construction of the facility will commence in 2023.

Dale Webb, vice-president of Nyrstar’s Australian operations, said the project will be powered entirely by renewable energy, helping to decarbonising the existing smelter’s power supply and improving the operation’s competitiveness in the international market.

“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,” he 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.”

The first stage of the project would feature an 85 MW electrolyser.

Image: AGIG

Trafigura Australia general manager Tim Rogers said the project will form the cornerstone of a new green hydrogen precinct in Port Pirie and created a unique opportunity for businesses in the wider Spencer Gulf region to participate in the growth of a new energy industry.

“The Port Pirie Green Hydrogen Project has the potential to be a catalyst for new jobs and economic growth in the region,” he said.

“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.”

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the government’s vision is for the project to be part of a renewable energy industrial precinct in the Spencer Gulf – incorporating Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

“This $750 million project is part of the ongoing transformation of South Australia into a producer of green hydrogen of global significance based on our outstanding renewable energy resources,” he said.

The project joins a list of hydrogen projects in the state, including H2U’s Eyre Peninsula Gateway project, and Australia’s largest operating green hydrogen facility, AGIG’s 1.25 MW facility at Tonsley which is blending hydrogen into the existing gas network in nearby Mitchell Park.

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