Mark McGowan, long serving Premier of Western Australia. Image modified. By grahameb - link, CC BY 2.0, link

Brickworks Closes West Australia Branch, Cites Energy Costs and Planning Delays

Essay by Eric Worrall

The green zealots who run West Australia appear to have claimed another energy intensive industry scalp, with the complete pullout of a branch of Australia’s largest brick manufacturer.

Brickworks mothballs last WA plant, says State ‘doesn’t want industry’

Sean SmithThe West Australian
Thu, 27 April 2023 7:29PM

Australia’s biggest brick maker has accused the WA Government of turning its back on the company after closing its last brick plant in the State.

The move by Brickworks’ Austral arm to mothball its Cardup plant, in Perth’s south-eastern outer suburbs, will leave family-owned BGC’s Midland Brick as WA’s sole producer.

Brickworks said the closure of Cardup would leave the company selling from a year’s stockpile of bricks while it decides whether to quit WA.

Brickworks managing director Lindsay Partridge reiterated late on Thursday that the company had struggled to make money in WA in recent years, despite demand for new homes.

He blamed various factors, including falling housing starts and an inability to recover rising costs from price increases, but also rapped the WA Government over Brickworks failure to secure approvals for a new kiln at Cardup that would improved the plant’s viability by increasing its capacity and cutting fuel costs.

Read more:

Fuel and energy costs are an intractable problem in West Australia, thanks to a hostile regulatory regime, including bans on fracking and chaos in West Australia’s coal industry. Despite high demand for energy, for some reason West Australian coal miners are going bust – in my opinion likely because of excessive environmental regulation.

The West Australian governments zealous attempts to encourage renewable investment, to help transition the state’s industries to Net Zero, do not so far appear to have inspired confidence in energy intensive industries like Brickworks.

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April 28, 2023 2:03 pm

All part of the “plan” to de-industrialize Western nations.

Bryan A
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
April 28, 2023 8:08 pm

We don’t need no electrification
The Government gives us thought control
All dark sarcasm in the courtroom
Brickworks leaves W A alone

Hey, Brickworks leaves W A alone
All in all, there’ll be no more bricks for the wall
All in all, there’ll be no more bricks for the wall

Ron Long
April 28, 2023 2:10 pm

Bricks are clay put into a mold and heated up (ceramics are extra heated up). Never mind the cost of mining, transporting, and putting into the molds, the heating up is a straight heat energy operation. No dependable heat energy at a reasonable price equals no bricks. The WOKE generation can use, what, to build houses, not wood from our brother the tree, not steel or aluminium from mining, not plastics from yucky oil. How about kangaroo skins? Isn’t that what it means to say “tie me kangaroo down, sport”? What a brave new world.

Reply to  Ron Long
April 28, 2023 2:21 pm

15-minute wooden cities?

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Ron Long
April 28, 2023 2:32 pm

Let them build with dung.

Bryan A
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
April 28, 2023 8:12 pm

Let them dig holes in the ground and live like Morlocks

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
April 29, 2023 5:18 am

right- build with dung and eat only bugs- what a wonderful future they call for! 🙂

Don Perry
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 29, 2023 5:50 am

On the plus-side, the dung will certainly attract insects and they can then simply be plucked off and eaten.

Reply to  Ron Long
April 28, 2023 7:19 pm

No dependable heat energy at a reasonable price equals no bricks. 

No bricks or wood or anything that required energy means no new houses. This is showing up in the number of house builders going bust in Australia.

Those people who own unfinished, unliveable houses voted for this but are unable to connect the dots and no one is telling them why – they are being told it is Russia’s fault.

South Australia and Victoria have the highest penetration of “renewables”. These two States have accelerated the demise of their heavy industry. They now have the highest debt burden but NSW and Queensland are catching up.

The transition is courtesy of China burning an ever increasing amount of coal to make these energy sinks and Australia is locked into buing them until reality prevails.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
April 29, 2023 5:17 am

“not wood from our brother the tree”

There is a big movement now – proforestation- to end all logging- so forests’ only function will be to sequester carbon- they think that will save the planet- I argue with them every day to no avail.

Reply to  Ron Long
April 29, 2023 6:00 am

Modern brick kilns are circular, highly automated (with robots) and the bricks are self firing in that crushed coal is added to the clay mixture – once started only the airflow is adjusted to control the temperature.

Modern brick manufacture therefore produces CO2 (as does more than 80% of all energy use including electric cars for crying out loud) and uses coal as fuel.
Mention coal to a climate catastrophist and they cross themselves and mutter obscure incantations to ward off the evil spirits.
This is what a circular brick kiln looks like from space.
Click Google Earth link below'55.4%22S+22%C2%B015'23.5%22E/@-33.5820472,22.256525,931m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d-33.5820472!4d22.256525
Just outside of South Africa.

The wet bricks are placed by robots moving radially on a rotating beam which rotates ahead of the moving kiln while picking up and palletising the prior fired bricks ahead.

Very cool automation.

Reply to  Chasmsteed
April 30, 2023 9:28 pm

Chamsteed, if you mean modern around 1850 when a type of circular kiln was introduced (Hoffmann) with multi-chambers (for manual loading, heating, firing, cooling and manual unloading, then you maybe right. Now however tunnel kilns which are automated are used. Cars are loaded automatically, then pushed continuously into the tunnel kiln. In the kiln there is a first section for drying, followed by preheating, then a couple of sections for firing normally now with natural gas but in the past with oil or pulverised coal (clinker bricks with direct firing, or clean bricks with external heat chambers), the last section are cooling chambers where air is circulated to the heating chambers. the cars are automatically unloaded with stacking onto pallets.
Drying and preheating are critical through cracking of bricks, and wastage which is costly in throughput and capital (larger and more kilns). Clay has to be right type and needs to be seasoned. The biggest cost however is fuel. Bricks, made at low temperature, are easily broken with handling,so high temperatures around 1400C are needed. Recycling of air from cooling area to drying and preheating is not efficient.
Concrete masonry bricks are cheaper, easier handling and laying etc. Clay bricks can no longer be used for wall support in buildings over 3 stories.
The whole building industry will shut down if cement and concrete are banned.

Reply to  Ron Long
April 29, 2023 12:13 pm

They’ll still use bricks, it’s just that the bricks will now have to be transported for hundreds if not thousands of miles.

Gunga Din
April 28, 2023 2:15 pm

Sounds like after being told to “make bricks without straw” they pulled out instead.

April 28, 2023 2:18 pm

Australia needs to dismiss their government and start over.

Reply to  Bob
April 28, 2023 4:22 pm

Reality check.
The WA government had a colossal landslide re election win- after instituting severe covid lockdowns which cut them off from Eastern states ( except for heavy transport).

Janice Moore
April 28, 2023 2:20 pm

… “renewable” investment …


Another fine exposé and analysis, Mr. Worrall.

April 28, 2023 2:20 pm

Wonder if they plan to quit using bricks?

Reply to  KevinM
April 28, 2023 2:44 pm

Wouldn’t surprise me.

Straw and sticks are all that’s left.

And ‘green’ as well.

But as Tim Blair observed –

“nothing ‘green’ ever works properly”

(The Big Bad Wolf knew this as well. The 3 little pigs were slow learners, apparently.)

Reply to  KevinM
April 28, 2023 4:58 pm


Bricks will be imported from China. !

Bryan A
Reply to  bnice2000
April 28, 2023 8:14 pm

South Africa

Where energy is cheap and plentiful and they don’t give a rats gonad about CO2

Reply to  Bryan A
April 29, 2023 3:14 am

Importing is fine as long as you can generate the money to pay for it – ask Sri Lanka what happens when you kill off your exports.

Reply to  KevinM
April 29, 2023 12:02 pm

I would suggest mud huts or covered pits like some native tribes used in North America after defeating some “more advanced” tribes that lived there before them.

Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 2:37 pm

“Fuel and energy costs are an intractable problem in West Australia,”

There is a more accessible report on the closure here. The key excerpt:
Concrete block and brick producer Brickworks revealed on Thursday its Western Australian subsidiary Austral has been running at a loss in recent years off the back of a reduction in building activity.

The plant has fallen victim to closures in the past, shutting its doors twice in 2012 and 2019 before major plans were made in 2020 to rejuvenate the site.

There is no mention in the report of fuel and energy costs, let alone Greens. The basic problem is that they can’t sell enough bricks.

West Australia is awash with gas, and at a reasonable price. Since 2006, 15% of the very large production has been reserved for the local market.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 2:56 pm

Did you read the last sentence from the managing director quote? Fuel costs certainly were mentioned.

Brickworks managing director Lindsay Partridge reiterated late on Thursday that the company had struggled to make money in WA in recent years, despite demand for new homes.
He blamed various factors, including falling housing starts and an inability to recover rising costs from price increases, but also rapped the WA Government over Brickworks failure to secure approvals for a new kiln at Cardup that would improved the plant’s viability by increasing its capacity and cutting fuel costs.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Eng_Ian
April 28, 2023 3:34 pm

Did you read the last sentence from the managing director quote?”

Did you read it? He said the problem was that a new kiln was not approved, which would have cut fuel costs, ie used less fuel. That is a particular issue of brickmaking, not fuel prices.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 5:00 pm

and an inability to recover rising costs from price increases,”

NIck’s deliberate closed-eyed comprehension issues. !

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 7:15 pm

Truncated. “by increasing its capacity

So cutting costs by increasing capacity and reduced fuel usage.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 11:09 pm

Yes I read it AND I can comprehend the meaning. You might have read it but I doubt you understood it.

Or, you are just too thick.. Which one is it?

Reply to  Eng_Ian
April 30, 2023 9:40 pm

Yes Ian, note my comment further up. A modern automated kiln will be more efficient and if capacity larger then unit cost will be down. The kilns I have seen in WA were inefficient and old. Quite a lot of manual handling and lots of wastage.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 29, 2023 12:17 pm

They wanted to cut fuel costs, but fuel costs had nothing to do with the decision.

Really Nick, even by your low standards, that was pathetic.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 28, 2023 7:13 pm

“Brickworks managing director Lindsay Partridge reiterated late on Thursday that the company had struggled to make money in WA in recent years, despite demand for new homes“.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  leefor
April 29, 2023 5:23 am

The demand for new homes may be rising but- is the actual construction of new homes rising? If not, then the demand for bricks isn’t rising. I suspect new construction is not rising due to rapidly rising costs of production, partly due to energy costs rising.

Rud Istvan
April 28, 2023 3:01 pm

For once, I am with Nick Stokes. This plant has shut twice before in the past 11 years. Indicates either lack of demand, or lack of modernizing investment, or both. Blaming government regulation is a tried and true management trick to shift blame from themselves.
And note, the plant makes both bricks and cinder blocks. The latter is not heat energy intensive. They are not shutting just the WA brickworks. They are shutting WA, period, yet again.

A general observation. It is best here when we do not shade Truth by partial fact omission. That is what the other side does regularly.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 28, 2023 7:26 pm

AAC is good but is imported from China and Malaysia, it is too expensive to ship it to WA from the east coast.

Bryan A
Reply to  leefor
April 28, 2023 8:28 pm

Perhaps you could convince Elon Musk to build and test his Hyperloop tube system there from coast to coast

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 29, 2023 5:25 am

Cindar blocks are not heat energy intensive? They’re cement and cement making is very heat energy dependent.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 30, 2023 9:52 pm

Sorry Joseph, you clearly have no idea about cement or concrete. There is little cement used in concrete (even less in concrete blocks and tiles). Concrete is by far the lowest cost building material and also the least energy intensive. In WA some 40-50% of cement contains cement extenders such as granulated slag (from Japan and Taiwan), and some fine limestone. In NSW and Qld fly ash is used directly in concrete. Unfortunately, the fly ash in WA is not suitable for concrete but it maybe possible to use brick dust as the Romans did with their concrete (but mainly volcanic ash).

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  cementafriend
May 1, 2023 4:17 am

Oh really? According to:

Portland cement is the basic ingredient of concrete. Concrete is formed when portland cement creates a paste with water that binds with sand and rock to harden.

Cement is manufactured through a closely controlled chemical combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and other ingredients.

Common materials used to manufacture cement include limestone, shells, and chalk or marl combined with shale, clay, slate, blast furnace slag, silica sand, and iron ore. These ingredients, when heated at high temperatures form a rock-like substance that is ground into the fine powder that we commonly think of as cement.

Bricklayer Joseph Aspdin of Leeds, England first made portland cement early in the 19th century by burning powdered limestone and clay in his kitchen stove. With this crude method, he laid the foundation for an industry that annually processes literally mountains of limestone, clay, cement rock, and other materials into a powder so fine it will pass through a sieve capable of holding water. 

Cement plant laboratories check each step in the manufacture of portland cement by frequent chemical and physical tests. The labs also analyze and test the finished product to ensure that it complies with all industry specifications.

The most common way to manufacture portland cement is through a dry method. The first step is to quarry the principal raw materials, mainly limestone, clay, and other materials. After quarrying the rock is crushed. This involves several stages. The first crushing reduces the rock to a maximum size of about 6 inches. The rock then goes to secondary crushers or hammer mills for reduction to about 3 inches or smaller.

The crushed rock is combined with other ingredients such as iron ore or fly ash and ground, mixed, and fed to a cement kiln.

The cement kiln heats all the ingredients to about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit in huge cylindrical steel rotary kilns lined with special firebrick. Kilns are frequently as much as 12 feet in diameter—large enough to accommodate an automobile and longer in many instances than the height of a 40-story building. The large kilns are mounted with the axis inclined slightly from the horizontal.

I grew up in Lee, MA- in the town was a huge limestone quarry. They ground up the limestone and cooked it- then sold 100 pound bags of cement used in concrete. They cooked it in huge ovens. I’d walk around the quarry sometimes as a kid waiting for them to blast the quarry. You could hear the explosions across the town. Those ovens used a lot of fuel- not sure what the fuel was. Maybe not all concrete uses cement but I think most in North America does.

John Oliver
April 28, 2023 3:27 pm

Yes it is good to have sparring partners to push back, keep us from becoming a echo chamber. I have sometimes regretted a few posts of my own. But some things are fundamental for me such as limited government erosion of fundamental constitutional liberties and excessive interference in markets.
Maybe someone from down under can fill us in on construction industry diwn there ; what is most common type of materials choice etc.?

John Oliver
Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 28, 2023 3:50 pm

Ok, thank you

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 30, 2023 10:04 pm

Eric, your point concerns domestic housing but note in WA all houses are built on slabs (concrete) on ground. The most important material in the construction (infrastructure) is concrete. There must be some politics around in the use of bitumen for roads. Concrete roads, I have been told by an engineer involved with highways in Qld. are cheaper on first up capital cost (concrete needs less base or foundation material) and a long way ahead over 50yrs taking into account maintenance which cause congestion. NSW is building lots of concrete roads. Concrete is of course used for airports, wharfs, dams, large buildings etc.

old cocky
Reply to  John Oliver
April 28, 2023 4:31 pm

Maybe someone from down under can fill us in on construction industry diwn there ; what is most common type of materials choice etc.?

Australia has a similar size and orientation as the USA, but is 10 degrees closer to the equator.
Building types and materials tend to depend on the location.
Tasmania and the Great Dividing Range on the east coast of the mainland can get cold (well, we think it’s cold) and have that “snow” stuff, the coast east of the Range is quite mild at least as far north as Brisbane, inland areas are drier and range from cold in winter to hot in summer, getting hotter as you head north and further from the coasts. The coastal tropics have distinct wet and dry seasons, but always on the warm side.

Suburban houses in the major cities tend to be timber framed brick veneer with tile roofing, tending towards timber with corrugated iron roofing in hotter areas, and (I think) steel frames in the cyclone areas.

Reply to  old cocky
April 29, 2023 5:09 pm

Homes in Western Australia, especially in Perth the capital city, tend to be built with double-brick walls and not timber or steel frames. This is mainly due to the hot summers and the supply of cheap bricks from available clay close to Perth. Cardup was the original state-owned brickworks that was sold to a private concern. There is still another major brick supplier operating profitably.

old cocky
Reply to  Graeme4
April 29, 2023 8:03 pm

Thanks, Graeme. It’s good to learn something new.

Reply to  John Oliver
April 28, 2023 4:32 pm

Most Aussies would prefer to live in an igloo in summer, and a sauna in winter.
But, you know – building codes and all that . . . 🙁

old cocky
Reply to  Mr.
April 28, 2023 4:43 pm

That’s one of life’s little mysteries. People tend to set the reverse cycle air conditioning thermostat lower in summer than winter.

Reply to  John Oliver
April 28, 2023 10:05 pm

“Maybe someone from down under can fill us in on construction industry diwn there ; what is most common type of materials choice etc.?”

In the future green nirvana of a de-carbonized planet it will be sticks and mud. Dung for heating…

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  SteveG
April 29, 2023 5:28 am

and bugs for food

April 28, 2023 4:19 pm

Western Australia has enormous gas reserves from existing offshore fields . Why does fracking even matter

Reply to  Duker
April 28, 2023 4:34 pm

Cheaper to drill holes and lay pipes on terra firma than under the ocean?

Just a guess . . .

Reply to  Duker
April 28, 2023 10:05 pm

Western Australia has a 15% gas reservation policy initiated at the original off-take agreement stage. The state has two pipelines to the Southwest population centre (including Alcoa alumina refinery) and one to the goldfields for power and processing heat. There’s a urea plant planned for the NW. The upshot is all the gas is allocated and the somewhat maligned and poorly managed coal field and powerhouse has had to import coal from the east as security of installed generation.

Reply to  Duker
April 29, 2023 12:21 pm

Because fracking means you can get more from those fields.

John Oliver
April 28, 2023 5:22 pm

I will add one little bit from my entrepreneur point of view. If I have say a legacy business ( as I do- Chimney repair ,reclining, wood stove pellet and gas stove service) And less say my equipment is old and needs an upgrade. Do I really want to invest part of my life savings in a business that the government is directly or indirectly trying to kill? And theoretically I am in the alternative energy business! (part of it at least. And even the wood part is suspect. Even modern EPA certified wood stoves put out quite a bit of pollution, particulates etc especially during start up and end of burn cycle before shut down. I could continue but maybe I should just retire. That my be what going on with these peoples business.

John Oliver
Reply to  John Oliver
April 28, 2023 5:25 pm


John Hultquist
Reply to  John Oliver
April 28, 2023 8:09 pm

“especially during start up and end of burn cycle before shut down

Once I get mine hot, I try to keep it that way for many days. It also helps that
my nearest neighbors are 1/2 mile away. Having a heat pump in a cold winter
area requires an emergency sort of heat. Even central heating propane furnaces need electricity to run their built-in electronic thermostat, timers, and fans. Such homes where I live will most likely also have a fireplace. Freezing in the dark is not a nice way to check out.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Hultquist
April 29, 2023 5:32 am

get a generator- worth every cent when there’s an outage

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Oliver
April 29, 2023 5:31 am

“EPA certified wood stoves put out quite a bit of pollution”

much improved, though- I had an old inefficient wood stove- the smoke was bluish white and I could smell it- I got an EPA approved wood stove, here in Woke-achusetts, the smoke is white- looks like steam- and I can barely smell it

April 28, 2023 6:47 pm

They’re going to save the environment by paying to ship bricks from China, right? You can’t parody stupidity of this level.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  max
April 29, 2023 5:35 am

But the Aussies can feel good that their nation didn’t produce them. Despite we skeptics constantly telling the greens that China, India and Africa are rapidly increasing their carbon emissions- and that they should go to those nations and whine about it “to save the planet”- they of course won’t even acknowledge this criticism and they certainly won’t go to those nations to complain- too busy shutting down the West.

April 28, 2023 8:19 pm

This Business Weekend interview from 2019 with Rob Millner says a lot about how this was a long time in the making. The bit about Brickworks starts about 17 minutes in, but the whole interview is worth watching.

John Oliver
Reply to  kalsel3294
April 29, 2023 6:26 am

yes! very good interview, thanks

Rod Evans
April 29, 2023 1:28 am

The question that needs answering is this.
Why does a manufacturing business making bricks and licenced so to do by the authorities, then require the ‘authorities ‘ to allow them to install a new kiln?
What has the business necessity of a new kiln to do with the authorities? Where do these bureaucrats believe their authority comes from? They demand a say in what kit a company can deploy who gave them that ridiculous position?
They will be telling transport businesses they can only use battery powered trucks next.
Time to drain the swamp. These modern day Luddites have overplayed their hand.

Reply to  Rod Evans
April 29, 2023 3:34 am

The main problem is that, with vastly increased survival rates, (if you were lucky, two out of all your children survived to breed 150 years ago, whereas it is most unusual for any to die now), what do you do with all the surplus people? It helps to cut down the birthrate, but still there is a huge number of people looking for some sort of job.

Unfortunately the answer is, they become bureaucrats of some sort. Hence the swamp, which is rapidly growing.

Joao Martins
April 29, 2023 3:27 am

Brickworks Closes West Australia Branch, Cites Energy Costs and Planning Delays
Let money talk!…

Joseph Zorzin
April 29, 2023 5:14 am

“intensive industries like Brickworks”

Then people will wonder why the coast of new construction shoots up. Here in America, the greens want to end all logging- which also won’t be good for the construction industry. The greens of course already have their nice wood/brick homes.

April 29, 2023 7:14 am

Net zero creates lots more green jobs-
how to make mud bricks by your own at home very easily – YouTube

A pity they’re Sandgropers in Perth but that will create more jobs pushing barrows of mud from afar. Even more green jobs can be had if you carbon tax that evil job destroying capital-
How to make mud bricks? (English) – YouTube

It’s just a simple matter of feelings and out pops the correct woke policies-
Greens announce plans to introduce bill to federal parliament to freeze rents and interest rates before budget announcement (

Paul Hurley
April 29, 2023 4:35 pm

This seems part of the overall Net Zero plan:

“No Bricks, No Glass, No Cement” – What Net Zero 2050 Demands According to Government-Funded Report

No bricks, the walls and foundations made of compacted earth, cement made from clay and glass scavenged from demolition skips are just some of the construction changes needed to comply with Net Zero by 2050. The latest paper from Government-funded U.K. FIRES looks to “minimise new construction”, and notes the shape of the urban environment will change, allowing for “denser living and reduced transport needs”.

Andy Pattullo
April 30, 2023 7:54 am

Everything necessary for the sustaining of human society must be over-taxed, over-regulated, overthrown and eventually banished in order to appease a non-existent weather god that doesn’t give a dam about us or generations to come. In western democracies we voted for these idiots and we will ultimately pay the price. The rest of the world will go on developing as they should.

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