The South Australian Parliament has passed a bill to help secure the redevelopment of Port Pirie’s Nyrstar lead and zinc smelter.
The ABC reports that the legislation, which won the support of both major parties in the Legislative Council, gives the final say over any changes to the smelter's operating licence to the State Government, not the Environment Protection Authority.
According to Manufacturing Minister Tom Kenyon, the ball is now in Nyrstar’s court to decide whether or not it will proceed with the project.
"The Government's done pretty much everything we can now to provide all the approvals and the assistance to the company that we can, but really now it's up to them and they've got to go through their feasibility process and then they've got to make their decision," he said.
The proposed redevelopment will cost about $350 million. The need for such a change was outlined in ‘the Nyrstar Port Pirie Smelter Public Environmental Report’.
The main environmental concern detailed in the report was the need for reduction in its lead emissions.
However, not everyone was happy with the report recommendations. South Australian Greens leader Mark Parnell said the lead reduction targets for Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter upgrade need to be lower.
The Australian reports that dangerous emissions from the smelter have been a health concern for Port Pirie residents for a long time.
A study of Port Pirie residents by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies has found a correlation between childhood lead exposure and mental health problems later in life. This reinforces the need for reductions in lead emissions.