Sugar power plant starts Loan to light up re­fin­ery

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

CON­STRUC­TION of a $ 640 mil­lion biore­fin­ery in Ing­ham which prom­ises to pro­vide elec­tric­ity to more than 28,000 homes is sched­uled to start early next year.

North Queens­land Bio- En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion has re­ceived the “fi­nal piece in the jig­saw puz­zle” af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment granted the project a $ 1.17 mil­lion loan.

It fol­lows eight years of fi­nan­cial uncer­tainty and com­mu­nity back­lash about its lo­ca­tion on Como Rd.

How­ever, since a fea­si­bil­ity study in 2009, the project has se­cured 235 lo­cal share­hold­ers.

The biore­fin­ery will use sugar cane bagasse to gen­er­ate re­new­able en­ergy.

NQBE chair­man Robert Carey said the Gov­ern­ment loan would al­low for the com­ple­tion of fi­nal due dili­gence, which would al­low the project to move to fi­nan­cial close.

“This is the fi­nal step be­fore ev­ery­thing is in place, this is the fi­nal piece in the jig­saw puz­zle,” he said. “Tech­ni­cal due dili­gence will take be­tween 10 to 12 weeks.”

The loan was awarded through the State Gov­ern­ment Bio­fu­tures In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Fund, which sup­ports com­mer­cial- ready prod­ucts to reach a point where a pro­po­nent can ac­cess ven­ture cap­i­tal and start pro­duc­tion.

NQBE will pro­duce about 430,000 tonnes of raw sugar for ex­port each year and 60 mil­lion litres of fuel grade ethanol per an­num.

Mr Carey said con­struc­tion was ex­pected to start “straight af­ter the 2018 wet sea­son”.

“We could be on ( site) ear­lier but given that we don’t un­der­stand the bank’s time­lines we are al­low­ing ex­tra time, so end of Jan­uary or af­ter the wet sea­son,” he said.

“The en­tire bagasse stream from the project will be used to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity which will run the fac­tory in­ter­nally.

“NQBE rep­re­sents a re­new­able en­ergy baseload power sta­tion for North Queens­land.”

The fa­cil­ity will be lo­cated on 80ha just south of Ing­ham and cre­ate up to 450 jobs in con­struc­tion, more than 250 jobs in op­er­a­tion and give lo­cal cane­grow­ers a new mar­ket.

“It’s a mon­u­men­tal project,” Mr Carey said. “When it’s up and built it will ab­so­lutely change the dy­nam­ics in the sugar in­dus­try in Queens­land.

“It’s prob­a­bly the big­gest biore­fin­ery in the world and the big­gest in Aus­tralia.

“The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on re­new­able en­ergy is ab­so­lutely a step in the right di­rec­tion and it’s where the world en­ergy po­si­tion will move to. NQBE will pro­duce zero emis­sions.”

State De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr An­thony Lyn­ham said the fa­cil­ity was an­other clean, green en­ergy gen­er­a­tor for North Queens­land.

“This loan through our Bio­fu­tures In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Fund will help bridge the last gap in the fund­ing and in­vest­ment for this project,” he said.

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