Queensland gets started on Biofutures investment fund

Queensland’s ambitions to be a major biofuel producer are still on track with a proposed $550 million super sugar mill and biofuel refinery at Ingham granted a planning extension to 2020.

The North Queensland Bio Energy Mill will create as many as 450 jobs during construction and then 250 permanent jobs, but the project has been delayed by volatile world markets.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her Government would investigate the establishment of a Biofutures Industry Development Fund, which would look to financially assist first-mover investment in the biofuels industry.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: biofuels could have the same transformative effect on Queensland’s economy as the LNG industry, but it won’t happen without Government commitment,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We already have a very constructive relationship with the US Navy, which is extremely interested in Queensland’s capacity to produce biofuels for their fleet. We also know other global companies like food and beverage giant Asahi are tapping into Queensland’s research expertise in this space.

As Queensland’s economy transitions, Ms Palaszczuk said biofuel is one of the major medium- to long-term opportunities that could power the state’s regional economies into the future.

“I’m confident a large-scale, game-changing biofutures industry can begin in Queensland, which is why I have made it a priority of my Government,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the Biofutures Cabinet Committee had determined that an ‘early-investment’ development fund should be considered.

“We know that access to start-up capital and early investment is often what holds many commercial proposals back, especially in emerging industries. If we can step in and assist companies to complete their due diligence, making access to capital simpler for any investment-ready, viable projects, it could be the catalyst for industry-wide momentum,” she said.

“In the lead-up to this year’s Budget, we will work with the Treasurer to see what funds are available and what kind of structure the Fund could take. We will also make sure that stringent guidelines are put in place so any investment proposals are rigorously assessed.

“This will give enormous confidence to the sector and send a powerful message to global investors that we are determined to see this industry become a reality.”