Queensland’s resources industry received a significant boost this week, as the state government announced the construction of a $16 million biofuels pilot plant in Gladstone.
The test facility is scheduled to be built at Southern Oil Refining’s Yarwun plant, and it will be developed into a $150 million refinery if successful.
Once expanded, the refinery would provide 200 million litres of advanced biofuels every year, which the Queensland government said can be used in the aviation, marine and military industries.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the facility marked the first commercial-scale biofuels production plant in the country. She also welcomed the positive effect the project could have on jobs in Queensland.
“I’m all about new industries because they will deliver new jobs and more prosperity, especially in regional Queensland,” she explained.
“A fully-fledged biofuels industry has the potential to play a key role in our economic future, and this pilot plant is a giant step towards achieving that goal.”
Ms Palaszczuk made the announcement in Gladstone alongside Biofuels Minister Mark Bailey and State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.
Member for Gladstone Glen Butcher was also in attendance and echoed the premier’s optimism regarding the employment benefits of the project.
“This is another big jobs opportunity for our region. And if it can progress from the pilot plant stage to the large-scale refinery, the jobs and opportunities will keep coming,” he stated.
As the biofuels industry expands, opportunities for apprentices and trainees in the resources sector may also increase.
Queensland biofuels roadmap
According to Dr Lynham, biofuels could make a substantial contribution to the state’s wider biotechnology sector – an industry he described as having great potential.
Last year, the Queensland government published a Biofutures Roadmap consultation paper that outlined the sector’s opportunities over the next 10 years. Following the consultation period, which occurred in December, a Biofutures Roadmap Action Plan is under preparation for a mid-2016 release.
The strategy will complement a range of other initiatives and legislation the state government has announced to boost biofuels, including the Liquid Fuel Supply (Ethanol and Other Biofuels Mandate) Amendment Bill 2015. The mandate requires that 3 per cent of all regular unleaded and ethanol-blended fuel sales are derived from biofuels-based petrol.
Dr Lynham said the Gladstone pilot plant could create various new jobs in Gladstone if expanded into a full refinery, adding that the initiative may encourage a “new wave of investment and job creation” in the state.
By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator