$23m carbon cow windfall

INVERELL’S Bindaree Beef will become a world leader in clean energy technology after the announcement of a $23 million federal grant yesterday. 

Member for New England Tony Windsor was at the abattoir to announce the construction of a world-first biogas system that will slash operating costs and increase jobs at Inverell’s biggest employer. The project has a $46 million price tag – the remainder of which is being funded by the company – and will enable Bindaree to cut processing costs for each head of cattle by more than a third.

“This will make the business much more internationally competitive, creating the opportunity for a boost in production that could deliver hundreds of new jobs,” Mr Windsor said.

“More jobs and stronger demand for cattle will boost the entire region’s economy.”

The project involves the installation of a more energy-efficient rendering plant.

All organic waste will be fed through a digester and the methane gas that’s produced will be used as a power source.

It means the abattoir will be able to replace a coal-fired boiler and halve its electricity consumption. The digester will also produce organic fertiliser for sale and high-quality 

recycled water for irrigation.

Bindaree project engineer David Sneddon said they would be the first in Australia to use the American-based technology and the first beef processor in the world to utilise it.

He said it meant the company could slash its carbon emissions by as much as 

95 per cent and would no longer have to pay Australia’s carbon tax. It will no longer burn 7200 tonnes of coal a year or have to use landfill and lagoons for waste disposal.

Mr Sneddon said the facility, which will be built across the road from the abattoir, still had to go through a state approval process, but if all went well he hoped they could begin work by February next year.

Mr Windsor said the government grant was funded by Australia’s carbon price and he praised the abattoir’s owners, the McDonald family, for their innovative approach.

“Bindaree Beef ... one of the few remaining Australian-owned meat processing plants, has spent up to $2 million researching and developing this project, rather than looking for a quick-fix that would allow them to just duck under the carbon price threshold,” Mr Windsor said.

“This innovative project is further proof of the huge range of opportunities available in regional Australia under carbon pricing for those with vision.”

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