NEW ABATTOIR PUSH
There is renewed support for a Pilbara-based abattoir after a centre-pivot irrigated feed crop production facility at Pardoo Station was given environmental approval. Calls for domestic slaughter were previously discussed at a Port Hedland live export forum in April and raised again last week after the Environmental Protection Authority’s approval of the third stage of the Pardoo Beef Corporation’s irrigation agriculture
project. The PBC project is expected to develop 368ha and sustain an additional 3000 cattle on the station, 100km east-north-east of Port Hedland.
Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan, said an abattoir could be considered if supply was met.
“We do see pastoralism is really changing, irrigated agriculture has become an important part of the pastoral estate and we’re keen to support it,” she said.
“I’d be interested in exploring the idea (of an abattoir near Port Hedland). Obviously the problem is the scale and the fact that you need to have a certain throughput so we have to be very conscious that we process efficiently. I think there is real potential for both improving the quality and quantity of beef in the Pilbara.”
PBC chief executive Brett Blanchett said the irrigation project was moving forward smoothly.
“The EPA have been very proactive and good to work with, very conscious of time lines and getting a sensible outcome that is in conservation’s interests as well as ours,” he said. “We’re turning grass into beef, we’re really looking at a domestic market for slaughter cattle and domestic slaughter jobs for our Wagyu too.”
Shire of East Pilbara president Lynne Craigie said the EPA’s decision was sound and that the Shire looked forward to developing a strong relationship with PBC.
“The scale of investment is significant, being upwards of $60 million in the development of the land and around $200 million more broadly in the Pilbara region.
“The vision of an abattoir in the Pilbara region will lead to genuine diversification of the Pilbara’s economy in line with the Regional Investment Blueprint — the broader regional project could create up to 750 full-time jobs in the region also.”
Port Hedland feedlot co-owner Paul Brown, who is behind a push for an abattoir in the town, said Pardoo’s irrigation systems could be replicated at inland stations to bolster cattle numbers.
“It all comes down to dollars and cents, if there are enough people with cattle who want to send them … and are prepared to pay the cost then that would be something to look at,” he said.