By Rachel McGhee
A $308 million abattoir with its own renewable energy facility in central Queensland has been given the green light by the State Government.
The project, to be built by the Asia Pacific Agri-corp near Gladstone, will feature a meat processing plant powered by its own on-site renewable energy facility and will be the first of its kind in Australia.
The solar farm will be on a 340-hectare site adjacent to the abattoir.
Once up and running, the facility will have the capacity to process up to 2,400 head of cattle per day.
Asia Pacific Agri-Corp managing director Daniel Daly said the addition of a renewable energy facility would make the beef processing plant viable.
“We looked at the energy use of the abattoir and with the way that power prices go, it left the business vulnerable to price spikes in electricity costs,” he said.
“We have our own 78-megawatt solar farm on the site, so we’re able to do behind the metre or through-the-fence power deals which keeps our costs controlled for the processing.
“There was also other costs associated with waste water and removal of waste water would be considerable … we combined the surplus of power from the solar with the waste water into an onsite hydrogen plant.”
Project will ‘help create other jobs’
Mr Daly said the project would deliver 308 construction and 335 operation jobs.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said it was great news for the region.
“This development will open up massive job increases for labourers in the Gladstone region by providing employment to dozens of non-trade occupations such as cattle workers, forklift drivers, and other processing workers,” he said.
Mr Daly’s project partner Leo Neil-Ballentine, a grazier at Calliope, south of Gladstone, said the cattle industry needed to keep moving forward.
“I don’t really think drought’s an argument,” he said.
“Droughts come and go and I think moving forward as an industry we have to make ourselves more sustainable through drought anyway.
“It more than likely won’t be drought by the time we’re operational and as far as supply goes we have structures already in place.”
Construction to begin next year
The state coordinator-general has placed 29 conditions on the project aimed at ensuring adverse emissions such as noise, dust and odour would not affect nearby residents.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the project still required some secondary approvals.
“Including approval for operational works by Gladstone Regional Council and environmental authority permits from the Department of Environment and Science for the meat processing and irrigation activities onsite.”
Asia Pacific Agri-Corp will next undertake detailed design prior to starting construction.
Construction is expected begin around May 2019 and the facility is anticipated to be operational by 2021.
Topics: regional-development, beef-cattle, food-and-beverage, solar-energy, state-parliament, farm-labour, food-processing, sustainable-and-alternative-farming, gladstone-4680, rockhampton-4700, qld, brisbane-4000