In a significant development in the resource industry, the salt and gypsum operation in Carnarvon, Western Australia, is poised to undergo a change in ownership. Leichhardt Industrials Group is set to acquire the operation, with the transaction expected to be finalized before the year’s end.
Leichhardt Industrials Group, recognizing the escalating demand for Asian-Pacific Industrial Salt propelled by the chemical market, food ingredients, and other industrial products, foresees a substantial salt supply shortfall – a staggering 20 million tons by 2027. Australia’s operations, particularly those in the Pilbara region, are positioned to dominate global production.
Richard Cohen, Managing Director of Port Rail and Core Services for Rio Tinto, revealed in a recent news release that the sale of Lake MacLeod, part of the Dampier Salt portfolio, is strategically aimed at allowing Dampier Salt to sharpen its focus on operational enhancements at its remaining two Pilbara operations. He stated, “The sale of Lake MacLeod will enable Dampier Salt to focus on enhancing operational efficiencies at its remaining two Pilbara operations while allowing the new owner of Lake MacLeod to maximize its potential.”
Cohen emphasized that until the completion of the sale, the Dampier Salt leadership team’s primary focus will be on safety, delivering on plan, and maintaining respect for all people at Lake MacLeod and in the Carnarvon community. Notably, Leichhardt has committed to retaining all Lake MacLeod employees, ensuring continuity of operation and providing job stability to the 130-strong workforce.
Dampier Salt, a joint venture between Rio Tinto (68%), Marubeni Corporation (22%), and Sojitz (10%), has played a crucial role in the salt industry in the region.
Founded in 2016, Leichhardt Industrials embarked on a project concept in 2017 with a vision to produce 1.6 million tons per year. The company gained lead agency major project status for the Eramurra Solar Salt Project in September 2020 and completed an advanced scoping study in September 2021, predicting an output of 4.2 million tons per year. Leichhardt is gearing up for construction activities, including the establishment of salt concentrator and crystallizer ponds, a jetty, wash plant, and non-process infrastructure, this year.
This strategic move underscores the dynamic shifts in the Australian salt and gypsum industry, aligning with Leichhardt Industrials Group’s vision for sustainable growth and meeting the rising global demand for industrial salt.