Waste Management In Action

Managing OTR in the Pilbara: Tyrecycle

A new joint venture between Tyrecycle and Kariyarra Contracting will specialise in end-of-life off-the-road mine-site tyre processing within Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Establishing partnerships and joint venture opportunities that will create wealth and employment for Kariyarra people is one of eight key outcomes listed in the Kariyarra 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.

Since the plan was released, a new joint venture has been formed between Tyrecycle and Kariyarra Contracting.

The venture will focus on processing end-of-life (EOL) off-the-road (OTR) mine-site tyres within Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Thereby linking to the Strategic Plan’s mission to create opportunities and effectively manage the land of the Kariyarra People.

The venture is a 50 per cent Indigenous controlled joint partnership, with direct input from the traditional owners of the Port Hedland area.

Kariyarra Contracting is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation, which is the Registered Native Title Body Corporate for the Kariyarra People.

Stephen Stewart, Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation CEO, says caring for the environment is important to all Traditional Custodians in the Pilbara region.

“The responsible reclamation and processing of waste that would otherwise be disposed on country will help care for the land in a way that preserves it for future generations,” he says.

According to Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle CEO, the venture provides a strong economic development opportunity for the region and the Kariyarra People.

“It’s a commercial operation, so it will be providing new opportunities for revenue and employment, while also tackling an important environmental issue,” he says.

“The project will not only prevent land from being destroyed, but will also repurpose all material for use across a range of end-markets.

“The recent developments in the expansion of local Pilbara-based ports, along with new opportunities to ship non-bulk commodities into and out of Port Hedland, have made this partnership possible.”

Fairweather says the Kariyarra People have well established relationships with the ports, which has advanced arrangements to ship processed waste rubber directly out of the region.

“It’s a local solution towards recycling EOL OTR tyres, which is now economically viable,” he explains.

“It avoids the cost-prohibitive alternative to transporting the processed material over long distances to Fremantle Harbour for export, which simply isn’t a feasible option.”

The EOL OTR tyres will be transported to Kariyarra-Tyrecycle’s soon to be constructed secure processing facility in Port Hedland.

The tyres will then undergo primary processing and be containerised for direct export from the region.

With strict documentation and process controls to ensure full chain of custody requirements, the size reduced material will be supplied into Tyrecycle’s overseas processing facility.

From there, the material will be converted into rubber crumb for repatriation back into Australia for domestic consumption, or sold into other markets.

“What this delivers is a local Pilbara-based approach towards the environmentally and socially conscious management of OTR waste,” Fairweather says.

In Australia each year, OTR tyres from mining represent one third of EOL OTR tyres, amounting to well over 100,000 tonnes of waste rubber.

Currently, only four per cent of these tyres are recovered for recycling, due to a lack of viable recycling options available to mining companies.

“One of the most commonly adopted practices is to manage the waste ‘in-pit’, essentially referring to burial of the waste rubber,” Fairweather says.

“Recent political, commercial and environmental developments have shown that maintaining the status-quo concerning the low-rates of recovery for heavy duty waste rubber is simply unsustainable.”

Fairweather adds that both state and Federal Governments have expressed their aspirations for a sustainable, low-waste, circular economy.

Almost 100 per cent of the Kariyarra-Tyrecycle workforce will be comprised of people from the Kariyarra community, with Kariyarra Contracting providing a key point of access to the local labour market.

Brenda Alec, Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation Chair, says the project will provide stable, high-quality employment opportunities.

She adds that the project will also provide the community with an ongoing revenue stream to help support the long-term sustainability of the Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation.

“It will enable us to reinvest in other activities, as well as support the philanthropic programs that directly support the Kariyarra People,” she says.

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