Stanbroke, one of Australia’s largest cattle producers, is planning a $200 million project to grow irrigated cotton near the Flinders River in North Queensland, with a view to exporting cotton and utilising by-product cotton seed as a protein source for its herd in the dry season.
Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General has declared Stanbroke’s $200 million Three Rivers Irrigation Project in the Gulf region of North Queensland a coordinated project.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Stanbroke proposed cropping and irrigation of up to 15,000 hectares of cotton adjacent to the Flinders River about 90km south of Normanton.
“Stanbroke has estimated the project will create up to 100 construction jobs over the three years of construction and 75 operational jobs at peak production,” he said.
“It’s great to see a Queensland pastoral icon like Stanbroke continuing to invest and grow jobs in the North.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed and supporting and facilitating initiatives by the private sector to develop appropriate water and land resources in North Queensland on a sustainable basis.”
The project aim is to grow cotton for the export market and utilise the cotton seed by-product as supplementary feed for Stanbroke’s beef herd in the dry season.
Stanbroke is the largest privately-owned vertically integrated beef business in the world, with cattle on a network of properties stretching across 1.6 million ha of the Gulf. It also has processing facilities in the Lockyer Valley, from where its signature Diamantina Beef is sold globally.
The proposed project is for a cotton farm and processing ginnery, worker accommodation, an airstrip, an off-stream 150,000 ML water storage area, pump stations, water transfer channels and, potentially, a diversion structure or weir.
Dr Lynham said Stanbroke was seeking approval to extract a further 122,000 megalitres (ML) a year from the lower Flinders River to irrigate the cotton. This is on top of the 28,800ML they already hold.
The government is currently finalising amendments to the Gulf Water Resource Plan and Resource Operations Plan which contemplates an unallocated water reserve of more than a quarter of a million megalitres of water in the Flinders River catchment in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Declaration as a co-ordinated project recognises that the proposal requires a rigorous and comprehensive environmental impact assessment, involving whole-of-government coordination. Stanbroke commenced their environmental assessments before the last wet season.
The next stage is for the Coordinator-General to draw up draft terms of teference for Stanbroke to prepare an environmental impact statement, which will be released for public comment when completed.
Source: Queensland Government