Chunxing Corporation takes ULAB decision to VCAT

Chunxing Corporation has made an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to review Latrobe City Council’s decision to deny a planning permit for its proposed used lead acid battery (ULAB) recycling facility.

The facility, proposed for Hazelwood North, seeks to recycle 50,000 tonnes of ULABs into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead each year, with Chunxing Corporation estimating 98 per cent of the lead, plastic and electrolyte in batteries will be recycled.

Latrobe City Council voted to not issue a planning permit application for the ULAB recycling facility at a Special Council Meeting on 17 September.

Council received 123 submissions to the proposal and listened to over 35 speakers who addressed the Special Council Meeting.

According to a council statement, it decided that the ULAB recycling facility did not meet the requirements of the Latrobe City Planning Scheme.

“The decision was made on planning grounds including taking into consideration amenity impacts,” the statement reads.

EPA Victoria issued a Works Approval with conditions for the ULAB recycling facility in August. However, council said the EPA’s decision did not influence its determination, as council was required to consider the proposal under the Planning and Environment Act.

The EPA granted the Works Approval after 10 months of public consultation, referral to other agencies, technical assessment of the application and research.

“After an extended community consultation period to accommodate disruptions caused by the bushfires and two community information sessions, we received more than 170 submissions,” EPA Development Assessments Manager Stephen Adamthwaite said in August.

“The application was referred to eight government agencies for advice, and EPA engaged a technical specialist with comprehensive knowledge of ULAB recycling world-wide to review the technical proposal.

“EPA is satisfied, subject to conditions, that the proposal will comply with the relevant legislation, polices and guidelines.”

As stated in Chunxing Corporation’s Work Approval application, Australia generates roughly 150,000 tonnes of ULABs a year, most of which is sent to four existing facilities.

The application notes that of the four facilities, only one conducts secondary lead smelting to produce lead product.

“We believe such incomplete recycling is unsustainable, and vulnerable to overseas demand and policy changes, similar to the export of kerbside recycling, which collapsed after China introduced its China National Sword Policy,” the application reads.

“We also see this low penetration of full recycling in the market as an opportunity.”

Latrobe City Council will engage suitable representation to act on its behalf, attend the hearing as required and comply with all requests for information from VCAT.

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