Qld eyes Mackay as new potential home for biofutures industries

Image credit: motorolka/stock.adobe.com

A task force was established in Queensland to look into Mackay’s potential as the future home of a new biofutures area that would house industries making products from sustainable plant-based resources. 

Led by Queensland’s coordinator-general, the project team will explore whether the region could be declared as a state development area (SDA) that would foster various industries that manufacture food, fuel, feed, and fibre products. 

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said a Mackay State Development Area would transform the region into a space where businesses could form value chains in industries like biomanufacturing and bioenergy. 

“These are the industries that could utilise our wonderful locally sourced, plant-based organic materials to make everything from fermented foods to aviation fuel,” Gilbert said. 

“An SDA could be the key to unlocking future opportunities and creating good jobs in exciting new industries while protecting existing jobs in traditional industries like sugar,” she added. 

A decision on the SDA proposal is expected to be made in late 2023, while work on the area could begin in 2024. 

“The declaration of a State Development Area in Mackay could help leverage the region’s traditional strengths in rural industries, such as cane growing and milling, and create new industries and jobs,” said Deputy Premier Steven Miles. 

“The Queensland Government will be fully discussing the possibilities with local stakeholders and holding public consultation so everyone can have their say,” Miles added. 

Queensland is currently home to 12 SDAs, which include those in Cairns, Townsville, Abbot Point, Gladstone, and Bundaberg. 

The Mackay region has been proposed as the site for a Future Foods BioHub that would provide the foundation infrastructure of a commercial-scale biofoods industry. 

Furthermore, the Palaszczuk Government recently ventured into a collaboration with company Cauldron to conduct a pre-feasibility business case for a fermented food contract-manufacturing facility. 

The region is also home to a Mercurius biorefinery pilot plant, which produces renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel using sugarcane.