HINCHINBROOK Shire Mayor Ramon Jayo has described a $1.17 million State Government Bio-futures Industry Development Fund (BIDF) to enable Ingham’s $640 million North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation Limited (NQBE) to proceed to complete Due Diligence and reach financial closure as “a shot in the arm for the Shire”.
Mayor Ramon Jayo said “Local businesses have been doing it tough and we continue to see many of our young people having to leave town to get a job.”
“The district has one of the worst ageing population problems in Australia and unless we can provide jobs for our young people the town of Ingham will slowly die,” he said.
The BIDF funding will enable NQBE to achieve financial closure and start construction after the next wet season, providing 450 jobs during construction and more than 250 permanent positions when the new facility becomes fully operational.
“The range of permanent jobs the project will create includes everything from cleaners to laboratory technicians and truck drivers so there should be opportunities for people of all skill levels,” he said.
“There will also be apprenticeships and traineeships, so this project will be massive for the Shire.”
“I would expect that the parents of every child currently at primary or secondary school would be delighted that their kids will no longer have to leave the district to find employment.”
Cr Jayo said that in addition to employment, the project would generate $96 million in increased annual economic output.
“I have been saying that this district can no longer rely on crystal sugar for its survival. We must be able to use the cane we grow for value adding opportunities,” Cr Jayo said.
This project offers development of alternate industry in the district including an ability for local growers to participate in the government’s bio-futures program for value adding to district wealth and growth – a diversity of product from sugar (bio-fuels, bio-plastics, ethanol etc.).
The green power component will provide an alternate stream of revenue as well as the potential for reduction in power costs to assist and enable potential irrigation opportunities for establishment of alternate cropping, including horticultural practices.
Cr Jayo urged all Hinchinbrook Shire residents to get behind the project.
“It is a major project for this Shire and the fact that it will be the first of its kind in Australia and the most technically advanced in the world, will also provide significant tourism opportunities.”
“I would think that every grey nomad driving through Ingham would want to stop and do a mill tour once the new factory is operational. Mill tours are not available to us for tourism purposes at the present time.”