North West Telegraph - - Front Page - Robert Dougherty

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.

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