Jobs boost for Foynes and West Limerick

Foynes has the potential to become a major European hub for biofuel manu-facturing following an announcement by CPL Industries of major investment in its Foynes plant which manufactures low-smoke coal. In addition, the company has revealed that a further €15 million will be spent on developing pyrolysis units for transforming waste and biomass into raw materials for low-smoke coal. This investment will create a further 60 jobs, up to 40 of which will be at Foynes  and will bring total employment levels at the company in Ireland to just over 200 by 2018.
The plans were revealed in conjunction with Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly, T.D., at the Foynes facility, which CPL stated has the potential to become a low-smoke fuel hub for Northern Europe. The Co. Limerick plant will be the second largest solid fuel production facility in Europe, producing smokeless coal from products including biomass materials, such as olive stones – some 80,000 tonnes of which will be imported each year from the Mediterranean to Foynes – and crops from Irish farms including miscanthus and straw from rape seed crops.
Announcing the company’s plans, CPL Industries’ CEO Tim Minett said, “We are excited by the potential for this facility.  A 500,000 tonne domestic market awaits due to the smoky coal ban, but we see export opportunities as well, as subsidies for coal mines will end in Germany, for example, in 2018, resulting in the closure of mines there.  This will deliver an additional market of hundreds of thousands of tonnes, and we believe CPL, Foynes and Ireland generally is well placed to go for that market.”
Speaking at the launch, Minister Kelly said, “These will be much-valued jobs in this part of Co. Limerick but the investment will also support the farming sector, as biomass will be one of the raw materials used in making the coals. The investment is, of course, being made here in Foynes for one key strategic reason – direct access to a deep water port for importing raw materials and exporting end product. This is convincing validation of the Vision 2041 masterplan of Shannon Foynes Port Company, which envisages the creation of thousands of jobs here over the life-term of the plan.”
Pat Keating, CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company, said: “This is a pivotal day for Foynes as it illustrates that our confidence that the Shannon Estuary can be a zone for significant international investment is very well placed. Thanks to the natural deep water available here, and the port facilities, Foynes and the wider estuary can become an international hub for a range of activities, including biofuels production.”
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan stated:  “The go-ahead for this facility by CPL will trigger the first major investment of this scale in a manufacturing facility in west Limerick in over two decades.  It is a significant statement about the potential of this area to attract major investment, thanks to the Shannon Estuary and its natural deep waters, and is, I believe, a sign of things to come for this area.”