John Anderson, 11 November 2015

WORK on a $564 million biofuel project which is set to create about 650 jobs is expected to start in the state’s north next June.

The project, underpinned by the National Australia Bank and the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, plus other private investors, has been in the pipeline since 2004.

It is planned for Pentland, about 240km southwest of Townsville.

The Pentland Bio-Energy Project Stage 1 involves the farming of sugarcane and sorghum on 19,100ha of land on Shane Meteyard’s Milray Station south of Pentland.

Mr Meteyard, a partner in the business venture, said about 344 million litres of ethanol fuel would initially be produced each year.

He said the ethanol would be bought by a US Fortune 200 company which would onsell the fuel to buyers in Singapore.

Mr Meteyard said he could not name the company due to business confidentiality agreements.

“We have a 15-year agreement with that company. But if the State Government continues with its plan to mandate ethanol, it is highly likely it would be sold here in Queensland,” Mr Meteyard said.

The project would create 400 jobs during construction and 250 full-time jobs in the operational stage.

“The workforce would be based at Charters Towers which is only one hour away from the work site. We estimate the project would be worth $200 million a year to Charters Towers,” Mr Meteyard said.

Mr Meteyard and Pentland Bio-Energy Project CEO Tony D’Alessandro said the last stage of planning was to finalise a supply of Burdekin River catchment water from the State Government.

Mr Meteyard said the venture was built around a supply of 75,000 megalitres of water a year from the Cape-Campaspe rivers.

He said water would be harvested during peak flood times and pumped into off-stream storage dams from where it would be reticulated on to farming land.

“We are finalising discussions with the Government on the water and are confident it will go ahead soon,” Mr D’Alessandro said.

Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth said the bioenergy plan was a golden opportunity to develop a multimillion-dollar project compatible to the region.

“This will be a real job creator. We just have to get the water sorted,” he said.

Mr Knuth said the project mirrored the Government’s position on renewable fuels and jobs growth. “This is something the Government should be reaching out to,” he said.

A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said there was “no current plan” to make unallocated water available in the Burdekin.

The spokesman said there would be no change to the policy until targeted amendments to the Burdekin Basin Water Resource Plan 2007 were completed.

He said submissions would be considered ahead of any amendments to the water resource plan in 2016.

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.