Construction of a $640 million biorefinery in Ingham which promises to provide electricity to more than 28,000 homes is scheduled to start early next year.
North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation has received the “final piece in the jigsaw puzzle” after the State Government granted the project a $1.17 million loan.
It follows eight years of financial uncertainty and community backlash about its location on Como Rd.
However, since a feasibility study in 2009, the project has secured 235 local shareholders.
The biorefinery will use sugar cane bagasse to generate renewable energy.
NQBE chairman Robert Carey said the Government loan would allow for the completion of final due diligence, which would allow the project to move to financial close.
“This is the final step before everything is in place, this is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “Technical due diligence will take between 10 to 12 weeks.”
The loan was awarded through the State Government Biofutures Industry Development Fund, which supports commercial-ready products to reach a point where a proponent can access venture capital and start production.
NQBE will produce about 430,000 tonnes of raw sugar for export each year and 60 million litres of fuel grade ethanol per annum.
Mr Carey said construction was expected to start “straight after the 2018 wet season”.
“We could be on (site) earlier but given that we don’t understand the bank’s timelines we are allowing extra time, so end of January or after the wet season,” he said.
“The entire bagasse stream from the project will be used to generate electricity which will run the factory internally.
“NQBE represents a renewable energy baseload power station for North Queensland.”
The facility will be located on 80ha just south of Ingham and create up to 450 jobs in construction, more than 250 jobs in operation and give local canegrowers a new market.
“It’s a monumental project,” Mr Carey said. “When it’s up and built it will absolutely change the dynamics in the sugar industry in Queensland.
“It’s probably the biggest biorefinery in the world and the biggest in Australia.
“The Queensland Government’s focus on renewable energy is absolutely a step in the right direction and it’s where the world energy position will move to. NQBE will produce zero emissions.”
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the facility was another clean, green energy generator for North Queensland.
“This loan through our Biofutures Industry Development Fund will help bridge the last gap in the funding and investment for this project,” he said.