A new $18 million biorefinery project in Bundaberg will generate more than 30 local jobs and position the region as an emerging biotechnology location.
Speaking at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Premier Annastascia Palaszczuk said today that Queensland-based biohub developer Utilitas was looking at converting waste from the distillery into green electricity, for return to the distillery, and biocrude.
“The Palaszczuk Government is supporting this project for the jobs and business opportunities it will generate locally, and the contribution it makes towards achieving our vision for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biotechnology and bio-products sector,” he said.
“This project will seek to re-purpose the soon-to-be-retired Bundaberg East Wastewater Treatment Plant, with the aim of forming a world-leading biotechnology and education hub for the future.”
The Bundaberg project is one of the biofutures projects supported by the Palaszczuk Government’s $4 million Biofutures Acceleration Program, generating more than 330 jobs across regional Queensland.
Utilitas plans to process feedstock such as organic trade and agricultural waste. At completion of the current feasibility phase, construction may commence from late 2018.
This includes potentially using waste from the distillery and other local industries in return for generating green electricity and biocrude.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said over the longer term the biorefinery could produce biofuels for potential use by the Bundaberg Regional Council, regional industry and future export markets.
“Additional refining processes could lead to value-adding bioproducts, including potentially bioplastics for the horticultural industry, to reduce and replace traditional plastic film use,” he said.
Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson welcomed the new project, which offered high skill jobs of the future for locals.
“Palaszczuk Government funding and support for this project, and others like it, is creating high-value jobs and investment in regional Queensland communities like Bundaberg, and helping the environment,” she said.
Utilitas CEO Ms Fiona Waterhouse said the funding would bring forward early works required to produce higher value bioproducts, including bioplastics, at the company’s proposed Bundaberg bioHub.
“We expect the project to provide a globally significant demonstration of how bioHubs can fuel industry, support networks and energise communities. We are grateful for the Biofutures Acceleration Program funding support,” she said.
Bundaberg Distilling Co. Supply Director Joe Russo said Bundaberg Distilling Co has been part of the local community for more than 125 years and was committed to constantly improving already impressive environmental and sustainability credentials.
“Our parent company, Diageo, has ambitious 2020 global targets for reducing our environmental impact and the Utilitas project has the potential to increase our use of green energy, reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our total water use,” Mr Russo said.
Other biorefinery projects coming to regional Queensland from the Biofutures Acceleration Program are:
- US biotechnology company Amyris’ biorefinery in a Queensland sugarcane, which would create 70 jobs.
- MSF’s $60 million sugar biorefinery at Atherton that would create 80 construction and 50 operational jobs, produce 55ML of ethanol biofuel a year and be powered by an onsite bagasse-powered 24MW Green Power station.
- United Ethanol’s $26 million expansion of its Dalby Bio-Refinery
- Brisbane-based biotech company Leaf Resources’ biorefinery in a regional Queensland location yet to be determined.