Planned cement plant could give US$60m lift to area

Planned cement plant could give US$60m lift to area
Published: 21 December 2006

Holcim’s proposed $200m cement plant for Weston near Oamaru could inject up to $60m into the north Otago economy during a two-year construction period, a social-impact study says. 
Holcim is distributing 8000 copies of the study, the 11th for the proposal, this week. 
The report estimates that if the plant was built, about half of the construction cost would be spent directly with businesses in New Zealand, including those in the Waitaki. 
It is believed that much of the $24m in salaries during the two years of construction would be spent in the Waitaki, and there would be an additional $36m of additional household income through the multiplier effect of the construction.
Holcim estimates construction of the cement plant and quarries would take two years and, in total, require 510 people, but not all at once. The average monthly workforce over the two years would be about 330. 
But Waiareka Valley Preservation Society spokesman Rodney Jones said the social-impact assessment made much of the construction boom but said little about the long-term effects of such plants. Jones said decisions on cement plants should focus on sustainable communities and future generations, not two-year booms. 
He said the small growth in permanent jobs did not justify the costs or risks of a cement plant. 
Jones said Holcim’s failure to identify the long-run benefits highlighted that the long-run gains from the project would be to foreigners. 
He said there was a large body of scientific literature that showed the adverse effects of living within 10km of a cement plant were significant and could not be avoided or mitigated. 
The assessment found that Oamaru and the surrounding area would be unlikely to provide enough workers, especially during the busiest period of construction. 
It looked at the labour market from Timaru, Waimate, Kurow and south of Oamaru, but not as far as Dunedin, and found that as many as half of the workers could be found within the area. 
According to the assessment, the long-term operation of a Weston plant could create up to 120 permanent jobs. 
Holcim said it was addressing any uncertainty in the community by ensuring all plants, quarries and pits complied with all standards for noise, dust, air emissions and safety. 
Meeting those standards would be a matter for the councils considering resource consent applications, expected to be lodged next year.