Tarong and Tarong North power stations showing the ash dam at rear (Photo: Troy O’Reilly)

by Anne Miller

June 12, 2019

Stanwell Corporation is now officially “investigating options” in regards to the construction of a new fly ash plant at Tarong Power Station.

Tuesday’s State Budget included an allocation of $101.7 million out of a projected $353.7 million total cost to design and construct a new fly ash plant “as well as a range of refurbishments and improvements”.

However, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that no contract has yet been let and the corporation is still awaiting final State Government approvals.

The construction of a new fly ash plant at Tarong Power Station will ease a long-running headache at the government-owned electricity generator.

Pozzolanic Enterprises – a subsidiary of Cement Australia – hauled its last load of fly ash from Tarong and Tarong North power stations in July 2014, putting to an end a saga during which allegations of uncompetitive behaviour were tested at times by both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Federal Court.

Later, Cement Australia and its associated companies were fined $18.6 million (later reduced to $17.1 million and then increased on appeal to $20.6 million) for anti-competitive behaviour over its contracts with Tarong, Tarong North, Millmerran and Swanbank power stations. No allegations were made against the power stations.

Pozzolanic was replaced at Tarong and Tarong North by Sydney-based Coal Reuse Pty Ltd.

Stanwell struck a 10-year deal with Coal Reuse which began operations at Tarong in August 2014.

However, the venture seemed cursed from the start, with initial delays blamed on the need to dismantle equipment linked to the previous contractor.

In July 2015, Coal Reuse announced work to construct a new multi-million-dollar fly ash handling facility at Tarong Power Station was expected to begin soon. In the interim, the company had been using a mobile extraction and loading system.

However, when Coal Reuse was placed in liquidation in September 2016, work on the new fly ash plant at Tarong Power Station still had not begun.

Since then, much of the fly ash being created by Tarong Power Station has been stored in the fly ash dam and in voids at the nearby Meandu Mine.

* * *

Fly ash is a by-product of the coal-fired power generation process.

It can be used to replace or supplement cement in concrete, providing environmental benefits including greenhouse gas emission reductions.

A Stanwell spokesperson said fly ash was expected to play a major role in the concrete market as more sustainable construction became an important issue for consumers.

“For every tonne of fly ash used instead of one tonne of cement, there is a saving of approximately one tonne of carbon dioxide,” the spokesperson said.

“Tarong Power Station currently produces about one million tonnes of fly ash per year, which is treated and stored at Meandu Mine in accordance with environmental regulations.

“Stanwell is investigating options to construct a new fly ash off-take facility at Tarong Power Station to reduce the amount of ash stored on-site in the ash dam.

“The reuse of what is otherwise a waste product supports the Queensland Government’s Resource Recovery and Waste Strategy.

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