An international consortium, representing companies from Italy, Singapore and Western Australia, are to build a $35 million ceramic tile factory near Perth.
Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said today directors of the companies involved - Italy's Cisa-Cerdisa; and Sacmi Impianti; Singapore's Haw Par Brothers; and Western Australia's Cavlec Group - had spent the last three days in Perth drawing up the agreement for the two-stage project.
"The decision is a clear demonstration that the State Government's investment attraction scheme is paying dividends - and that our efforts to promote new processing industries are working," Mr Taylor said.
The Deputy Premier said the project's eligibility for the attraction scheme had been a key factor in persuading the venturers to invest in WA.
"It is also worth noting that the original concept for the tile factory was drawn up in 1990 by the Department of State Development," he said.
"It was the department's officers who then worked to bring together the right combination of companies which not only had the expertise but were prepared to join forces as a commercial consortium."
Mr Taylor said the consortium would be known as Cisa Australia, after the internationally famous Italian tile-maker which had joined the venture.
"Cisa Australia is now working on its final feasibility study and expects to have it complete before Christmas," he said.
"The plant will be built in two stages, the first costing $25 million and the second about 12 months later costing $10 million more.
"The first stage will employ a production workforce of about 70 people, and the second stage will see that figure rise to about 130.
"The choice of site is still being finalised, but construction is expected to start early next year which means the first stage of the factory should be ready for operations in early 1994."
Mr Taylor said the tile factory - the first of its kind in Western Australia - would adopt the most advanced Italian ceramic technology.
"It will also make use of WA clays and produce a range of high-quality floor and wall tiles with a variety of glazes and finishes," he said.
"When both stages are completed, the factory will be manufacturing about three million square metres of tiles a year - about 17 per cent of Australia's annual market in domestic tiles.
"But the consortium will not only be supplying the Australian domestic market.
"The aim is to open up a new export trade and tap the quickly expanding tile market in South-East Asia."