The Australian Agricultural Co is still confident of receiving substantial Federal Government support for its Darwin export meatworks project, following the granting of an important Development Approval for the $80 million scheme.
NT minister for lands and planning, Gerry McCarthy, on Friday granted an Exceptional Development Permit (EDP) to construct the facility at Livingstone, 50km south of Darwin.
AA Co managing director David Farley said the permit was subject to a number of conditions requiring further financial analysis and commercial consideration.
He said AA Co was still seeking to finalise commercial negotiations with the government-owned utilities regarding key public infrastructure including power, water and gas connections as well as port upgrades.
“The NT Government has committed about $1 million for a minor upgrade of the Stuart Highway, but commercial negotiations are still continuing with the Port of Darwin and the Power and Water Corporation on user charges,” he said.
The AA Co board would be in a position to make its final investment decision on the project once these commercial negotiations were complete, and had thoroughly reviewed the permit conditions and any impact they might have on the ‘commerciality’ of the project, Mr Farley said.
In total, AA Co is seeking Federal and NT Government contributions to infrastructure worth about $35 million, the company has previously stated.
The development approval for the project including a comprehensive Public Environmental Report (PER), comes seven months after the EDP application was first lodged in October last year and 28 months after the first discussion with the NT chief minister.
Mr Farley said the project would have the capacity to process up to 1000 head per day at full production, creating 260 full time jobs, and meeting and exceeding all new clean energy legislation. He emphasised that the development would improve animal welfare outcomes and would underpin the long term future for the northern pastoral industry, taking full advantage of its close proximity to growing Asian markets.
In other company news this week, AA Co has appointed a new boardmember, representing the interests of recent 10pc investor, Tavistock Group, a privately-held UK-based investment company.
Beef Central flagged the arrival of Tavistock as a significant AA Co investor in this article, “UK mystery man on AA Co share register” in November last year. The company is owned by English billionaire, Joe Lewis.
Dr Shehan Dissanayake is a senior managing director and member of the board of the Tavistock Group, responsible for portfolio strategy across 200 companies in 15 countries. Before joining Tavistock in 2002, he was a managing partner in accountancy conglomerate, Arthur Andersen, with responsibility for strategy and business planning for the global legal, tax and HR consulting divisions of the firm.