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Prime Mover Magazine


Gladstone plant expected to launch $1Billion biofutures industry

A trial site for diesel and jet fuel production derived from agricultural and forestry refuse has been given the go ahead.

Located in Gladstone, the pilot biorefinery is a project from Mercurius, an American company that converts biomass like sugar cane waste into renewable fuels.

Construction of the plant in Yarwun is scheduled to be completed by late 2019.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state government had been at the forefront of developing a bio-industry in Queensland.

“I met with Mercurius during a trade mission to the US in 2017 and they made it clear they recognised Queensland was committed to developing a biofuels industry,” she said.

Mercurius has developed cutting-edge, patented biotechnology to produce cost-effective drop-in biofuels and bio-chemicals from non-food feedstocks like sugarcane waste – all without directly producing a CO2 by-product.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said Mercurius’ world-leading biotechnology will bring Queensland a step closer to achieving a $1 billion biofutures industry by 2026.

“The planned biorefinery pilot represents a huge vote of confidence in the biofutures credentials of Queensland, particularly in the Gladstone region,” Mr Dick said.

During its three-month operational period, the pilot biorefinery, according to Dick will provide work for around 30 people.

When successfully delivered, the pilot will pave the way for Mercurius to build a larger demonstration plant in which it would scale up production of biofuels and bio-chemicals.

“The demonstration biorefinery would target production of four tonnes of renewable diesel and jet fuel daily and could attract a combined investment value of $11 million and create an estimated 50 jobs,” said Dick.

“As stated in the KPMG bioenergy state of the nation assessment, commissioned by Bioenergy Australia, Queensland in leading the nation when it comes to the development of the bioenergy industry,” he said.

“We’re strongly placed to capitalise on our existing agricultural and manufacturing base and supporting infrastructure, and this is allowing us to take a lead role in the production of renewable fuels.”

The pilot is supported through the Palaszczuk Government’s $150 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund.

It helps to facilitate private sector projects that create regional employment and economic growth opportunities.

Through the state’s Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program, QUT also secured $300,000 over three years to fund research on Mercurius’ biotechnology at the pilot plant.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Mercurius chose Queensland to develop and commercialise its technology due to the state’s willingness to support innovative projects.

“Over the longer term, based on the performance of the pilot and demonstration plants, the company plans to establish up to five commercial scale biorefineries across regional Queensland,” Mr Butcher said.

Mercurius Managing Director Michael Vevera said the company continues to see the strong potential of regional Queensland as a leading global biorefinery location.

“Queensland is an ideal destination to further develop our patented REACH biotechnology,” Mr Vevera said.

“This is due to the abundance of feedstocks, coupled with the Queensland Government’s continued commitment to build a strong biofutures industry.”

Mercurius President and CEO Karl Seck said the company was attracted to Queensland by the Queensland Government’s Biofutures Acceleration Program in 2017.

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