Image for Nyrstar and State Government in talks over ‘hand-up financing’

A $500 million deal between the South Australian Government and minerals giant Nyrstar appears to be a catalyst for the company’s approach to the Tasmanian Government.

A Nyrstar spokeswoman said yesterday the company was in negotiations with the State Government on a similar agreement it struck with South Australia last year.

Yesterday the Mercury revealed that Nyrstar, which employs 600 Tasmanians and another 3500 indirectly, was in negotia­tions with the State Government to future proof its operations in the state.

However, Nyrstar denied speculation it was seeking $50 million – or any cash at all – from taxpayers.

“The proposed investment is not a cash handout or grant,” the spokeswoman said, “rather a hand-up financing solution based on the innovative and well-received funding framework applied in South Australia for the redevelopment of Nyrstar Port Pirie, with the State providing support by way of guarantee, and not direct funds.

“The proposed investment program will change Nyrstar Hobart’s business and operating model by increasing the smelter’s capacity to treat a wider range of raw materials.”

State Opposition leader Bryan Green said talks between Nyrstar and the Government were potentially critical to Tasmania’s future.

“The loss or downsizing of any one of our major industrial companies would have a catastrophic impact on jobs and flow-on effects for the energy market,” Mr Green said.

The comments were replicated by Greens leader Nick McKim.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Michael Bailey said the loss of Nyrstar could have huge ramifications on the state.

Read the full Mercury story here