The City of Ballarat of Ballarat has extended its controversial Heads of Agreement with foreign waste-to-energy company Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) over the provision of a $300 million incinerator.
In a statement released yesterday, the council stated the 'Heads of Agreement has been extended until the 21 May 2019, with MRCB then due to report back to Council.'
Council signed a non-binding heads of agreement with MRCB in August 2018 for a 120-day feasibility study into the incineration plant to be situated at the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
While the Heads of Agreement is in place, competing technologies for the provision of waste-to-energy are not being considered by council.
According to council's release:
"It was identified in December 2018 that an extension (the first) into the new year was needed to brief Council and to accommodate the Christmas break. Post Councillor briefing it was determined that both the City of Ballarat and MRCB needed more time to complete due diligence assessments before a decision could be reached.
"A further extension (the second extension) has been approved that will allow for full and proper assessment of the proposal.
"Council is taking the appropriate time to fully understand the risks, long term costs and opportunities of the $300- $400 million proposal. Anything less would not be in the best interests of the community. Council is committed to providing as much information as possible within the confines of probity to ensure the community are kept abreast as things progress."
Rival bidders for the opportunity have expressed frustration to The Courier over being excluded from the process, with one saying they have approached the state energy minister Lily D'Ambrosio asking for an investigation into the conduct of the agreement tenders.
If an agreement is finalised, MRCB would have a contract to privately own and operate the plant for 25 years.
The current non-binding plan details an incineration plant that would require up to 400,000 tonnes of waste per year, a 1200 per cent increase on current waste levels.
Ballarat produces 30,000 tonnes of waste for the tip each year.
An incineration plant would also produce ash output, which would need to be disposed of. Increasingly ash is regarded as a toxic output, containing molten heavy metals that need to be removed using power-hungry eddy current separators.