Growing Central Queensland
Growing Central Queensland is a regional initiative to capture sustainable agribusiness opportunities for individuals and communities across Central Queensland. The initiative is a key mechanism for encouraging the development of catalytic agriculture infrastructure, by attracting public and private investment. This will lead to a number of infrastructure priorities and individual investment prospects being identified.
The scope of the Growing Central Queensland initiative includes, but is not limited to, the following potential agriculture precincts:
- The Fitzroy River Agriculture Corridor
- The Dawson River Agriculture Corridor
- The Mackenzie River Agriculture Corridor
- The Gladstone Agribusiness Corridor
The initiative builds on regional competitive advantages including:
- The Fitzroy Basin which is Australia’s largest catchment flowing to the eastern seaboard
- Water availability and security
- Freehold land and productive soils
- Market experience (Fairbairn Dam)
- CQUniversity and other educational institutions
- People with multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills
- Port and air proximity to the world’s fastest growing markets
- Established road, rail, port and air infrastructure
Regional Development Australia – Fitzroy and Central West auspices the Growing Central Queensland project in partnership with the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of State Development, Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the six local councils in the Fitzroy region.
To date, the collaborative has completed a review of the agricultural sector in Central Queensland to identify requirements to enhance the profitability, productivity and competitiveness of the sector. It has also developed two investment prospectuses which discuss opportunities in the agriculture and beef sectors.
Central Highlands Meat Processing Plant
Central Queensland has the greatest beef stock density of any region in Australia, with approximately 4.8 million head. The Central Highlands Regional Council and Central Highlands Development Corporation identified an opportunity to tap into growing export opportunities into south east Asia and commissioned GHD to undertake a study into the feasibility of establishing a meat processing plant in Emerald. The Meat Processing Plant Feasibility Study considered:
- analyse the feasibility of Emerald as a location for a meat processing plant;
- identify the economic viability and market demand; and
- provide recommendations for future actions.
The study found niche and export markets could be major opportunities for a Central Highlands meat processing plant. The niche markets could include strong domestic demand for premium and differentiated beef products including wagyu, organic and certified grass-fed beef. Currently, the closest abattoir offering this service is in Brisbane and it has a long waiting list.
The Study findings were based on an operating model that would process 450 head of cattle and employ 168 people per shift. It estimates more than half of the cattle would come from within the Central Highlands, about a quarter from Isaac, and the rest from shires including Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo and Longreach. Land on Wilga Downs Road, west of Emerald, is identified as the optimal of four potential sites because of its adequate size and topography but road, power and water supply upgrades will be needed. Such a facility would cost between $73 million and $83m to build and close to $33m annually to operate.
Central Highlands Regional Council is seeking private investors for the project.
Regional economic benefits include job opportunities; improved transport infrastructure; transport savings and value-adding opportunities for the beef industry; and demand for supporting goods and services.
CHRC will now form a committee to provide recommendations on the way forward. The study is expected to be used to source private investors to proceed with the project.
Inland Multi-Modal Transport Hub
The Commonwealth funded Central Queensland Transport Supply Chain Study initiated by the Department of State Development and Infrastructure and Planning in conjunction with the Department of Transport and Main Roads explored a modal shift of certain commodities from road to rail in Central Queensland. In addition, the development of future mining operations in the Galilee Basin directed attention to the need for long term planning to address issues that would potentially impact supply chain efficiencies, connectivity and fatigue management in the region.
Consideration is being given to the establishment of an inland port to facilitate the modal shift from road to rail of mining inputs (fuel, cement, chemicals) and agricultural exports (grain, cotton, citrus). A modal shift of these commodities from road to rail would likely support new trade and marketing opportunities for an above rail operator.
Rail based logistics solutions being proposed have a state wide focus on the rail system connecting the ports of Gladstone and Mackay to the resource areas of the Bowen and Galilee basins.
Emerald is being considered as the location for the proposed inland port due to its proximity to new mining operations in the Galilee basin area and cotton, grain and citrus agriculture.
Industrial land at Yamala, to the east of Emerald, has been identified as being prospective. Siting of a multi-modal facility at the Yamala site is further strengthened by GrainCorp’s decision to relocate its Emerald grain handling facility to the Yamala site.