WORK has commenced on the first-stage of a $35 million project that will deliver a three-pronged expansion at Mort & Co’s Grassdale Feedlot near Dalby on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
The project includes the expansion of the feedlot from 48,000 to 70,000 SCUs (Standard Cattle Units); the first stage construction of a plant to convert composted manure into granulated fertiliser, and the development of a fired electricity generation plant
Mort & Co managing director Charlie Mort said work on the electricity plant had already commenced.
The feedlot expansion is scheduled to begin in the next month, while the granulation plant is nearing final design and should be under construction within six months.
During a recent Country Cabinet meeting in Toowoomba Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, announced the project would receive a funding injection from the Queensland Government’s $150 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund.
His office said the level of funding support involved was covered by commercial in confidence restrictions and could not be divulged.
However the Minister said the $35 million expansion represented a significant job creation project and would provide an ongoing economic boost for the region’s premium food industry.
“The Darling Downs has long been known as Queensland’s food bowl, and the cattle production and meat processing sector is the region’s highest food value chain, worth more than $1 billion each year,” Mr Dick said.
“Mort & Co plans to increase the throughput of the Grassdale Feedlot by an additional 80,000 cattle per year, install a gas-fired power station, and build a world-class fertiliser manufacturing facility.
“This is great news for the Darling Downs, with 34 new long-term operational jobs to be created at Grassdale, and around 105 full-time equivalent jobs supported during the 18-month construction period.
“This expansion has the support of downstream meat processors who have indicated around 115 full-time equivalent jobs will be created at regional abattoirs.”
Mr Mort said the details of the Government’s support remained confidential but added that the funding was based on the creation of long-term sustainable jobs.
He said the support was contingent on milestones being achieved, which included that the expansion project created employment for at least 34 additional people.
The power plant will convert locally extracted Coal Seam Gas into electricity which will make the Grassdale operation fully self-sufficient for energy, providing the operation with significant cost savings.
Mr Mort said Mort & Co would be looking for other opportunities to use excess electricity generated, or otherwise would sell surplus energy generated back into the grid.
The new advanced manufacturing fertiliser facility will use innovative technologies to convert 100,000 tonnes of manure into high-value granulated fertiliser pellets with a potential retail value of more than $23 million per year.
“This process will provide feedlots with an environmental solution to waste issues, and it also has the potential to be adopted by the wider feedlot industry, resulting in significant economic and environmental benefits,” Mr Dick said.
Grassdale has sold its manure as screened raw product to local broadacre farmers, and more recently has been converting manure into a fully composted product.
The fertiliser plant will convert manure into a granulated fertiliser that can be direct drilled into paddocks by air-seeders. Mr Mort said fertiliser would be sold both into the domestic market in bulk or bagged product and into export markets.