Port Pirie and other Spencer Gulf communities need to diversify according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis.
Minister Koutsantonis was in the city last Thursday to present a $200,000 cheque for studies on the port, airport and gas pipeline.
Asked if he was confident Port Pirie would be able to diversify, he said it was not a matter of his confidence, but about necessity.
“I think the idea of Whyalla being a one company town is fraught with risk, I think Pirie being all about Nyrstar is fraught with risk,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean those industries are in jeopardy, what it means is that regional communities need to diversify.”
Private investment is the future for Port Pirie, according to Mr Koutsantonis.
He said Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock and Mayor Brenton Vanstone would be coming to the government for assistance to upgrade the airport, but “ultimately it’s about private investment”.
“It’s not so much about government handouts, its about private industry stepping up and seeing opportunities that are here so close to the mining boom,” he said.
He said it is not for the government to say what the cheque will go towards, but he understands it will be used towards investigating and upgrading the capacity of the airport, doubling the capacity of the gas pipeline into Port Pirie and investigation of ports and rail utilisation in town.
He said this would help the town diversify industries in Port Pirie.
He said Mayor Brenton Vanstone and Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock are probably two of the most passionate people he knew about Port Pirie.
“You’ve got two very good leaders in Geoff Brock, who I’ve got to say lobbied me pretty hard for this money, and Brenton Vanstone who is very passionate about Port Pirie,” he said.
“I mean Geoff’s got my mobile number, so he rings it quite regularly to talk to me about things going on in Port Pirie.
“I feel like I’m a bit of an expert on Port Pirie.”
“And Brenton Vanstone is obviously very committed to Port Pirie.”
“Those two working together is a very formidable team.”
Mayor Brenton Vanstone said it was wonderful to have the Minister visit Port Pirie and present the cheque to them.
“This cheque will go towards pursuing our four-point growth strategy for Port Pirie,” he said.
“And Port Pirie developed a growth strategy because we’ve had a lot of mining and energy companies who have approached us.”
He said it would help Port Pirie to “not just be one-dimensional” relying on the Nyrstar smelter.
Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock said he was very
grateful that the Minister came up to Port Pirie to present the cheque.
He said the money would help them to do a business plan and look at opportunities to expand in Port Pirie.
“I must say this is one of the unique situations where you have the local member, the local council and the local Regional Development Australia working together and all cooperating in one direction,” he said.