Geelong mooted as possible site for major recycling centre

February 18, 2024 BY

Geelong could become home to recycling centre capable of processing vast quantities of steel from decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms. Photo: INFRABUILD

GEELONG could become the site for a transformative new recycling centre aimed at repurposing steel from decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms, according to Friends of the Earth (FoE).

The environmental advocacy group says there is a possibility the Port of Geelong and Tasmania’s Bell Bay are both in the running for a “Rig Recycling Centre.”

This facility is expected to handle the disposal of steel from infrastructure such as the 13 Esso platforms in Bass Strait.

FoE offshore fossil gas campaigner Jeff Waters said Victorian and Tasmanian MPs and senators had been alerted.

“Victorian Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio is particularly interested in this project.

“Victoria is on the brink of constructing a massive wind farm but is currently facing a steel shortage.”

Mr Waters said Ms D’Ambrosio planned to advocate for Geelong’s bid at the coming federal resources ministers’ meeting, with the aim of repurposing the recycled steel for wind turbine construction.

“What’s really important is that the federal government’s decommissioning roadmap, which is still being formulated, makes sure the oil and gas industry pays to clean up its own mess, and for all of the steel and other recoverable materials to be recycled.

“That can easily be done by extending the existing temporary decommissioning levy, which all of the industry is now paying, to finance a recycling centre.

“This would pay not just for a breaking yard but a full recycling facility so that the more than 100 Sydney Harbour Bridges’ worth of steel can be properly recycled.

“You only need an electric smelter to melt steel; you don’t need to burn any fossil fuels.

“Geelong has the advantage over Tasmania because just up the road from the Port of Geelong is the Laverton electric steel smelter.”

A spokesperson for InfraBuild who manage the Laverton Steel Mill said the company welcomes opportunities where redundant steel can be recycled in Australia and transformed into new steel.

“InfraBuild already operates Electric Arc Furnaces in Melbourne and Sydney that together, take around 1.4million tonnes of scrap from our recycling operations, turning this into new steel products,” the spokesperson said.

“As steel demand is predicted to increase significantly by 2050, domestic recycling and manufacturing of steel is an important way to meet this demand.”

Ms D’Ambrosio’s office was approached for comment but did not respond before publication.