Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls today announced Kimberley Agricultural Investment (KAI) as the preferred proponent to lease and develop 13,400ha into irrigated farmland under the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project.
KAI proposes to invest up to $700million in the next six years to establish a sugar industry in Kununurra, to annually produce about four million tonnes of cane and 500,000 tonnes of export sugar crystal.
KAI has worked with Australian industry to develop farming models for the project and indicated it would offer sub-leasing and share-farming partnerships with Australian growers on up to 20 per cent of the new farmland.
Mr Barnett praised the Miriuwung and Gajerrong peoples for the significant role they played in the process to date.
“I’d like to thank the Miriuwung and Gajerrong for their work with the Government and proponents during what has been a long process,” he said.
“This was a significant act of self-determination which will now see them become landholders in their own right.”
The Premier said the project was a major step towards the region reaching its full potential.
“This investment in large-scale agricultural industry and downstream processing will be the start of an exciting new era for the East Kimberley and northern Australia,” he said.
“It was the Liberal-National Government’s decision to invest in a new main irrigation supply channel and core transport infrastructure that laid the foundation for the development of a long-term, sustainable agricultural industry in the north of this State.”
KAI will lease and develop 13,400ha of Crown land in the Goomig and Knox Plain areas into irrigated farming units under leases with terms ranging from 10 to 50 years.
Importantly, an estimated 1,700ha of newly developed land in the Ord West Bank area will also be available for other producers and crops, to provide up to 25 new, locally run farms, ensuring agricultural diversity.
The Premier also acknowledged the Federal Government’s significant investment in the region under a national partnership agreement with the State Government, which has seen an additional $195million of Federal funds granted to social and community infrastructure in Kununurra, Wyndham and surrounding communities.
“I thank the Federal Government for their commitment to this project, which has resulted in a significant investment in the community that will benefit the broader region for decades to come,” he said.
Mr Grylls said KAI was one of a number of companies which registered for the expressions of interest process.
“Today’s announcement is a major milestone for the region’s future, which has essentially been constricted since 1972 when Lake Argyle was created,” he said.
“The Liberal-National Government’s decision to invest $311million of Royalties for Regions funding into the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project has delivered 31km of new main irrigation supply channel.
“It has also delivered 40km of sealed public roads across land which, under this proposal, will be developed into operating farms.”
Mr Grylls said contract negotiations would be conducted and finalised during the next six months. KAI must also obtain all relevant approvals and be required to fund associated infrastructure.
WA would retain ownership of the irrigation channel, sealed roads and other infrastructure developed within the Royalties for Regions Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project.
Mr Grylls said the interests of the Miriuwung and Gajerrong peoples would be protected during the negotiation period.
Ord Stage One opened in 1972
KAI is an Australian company wholly owned by Shanghai ZhongFu (Group) Co, whose parent company is major Chinese construction group Shanghai Zhongfu Real Estate Co
$700million KAI proposal includes:
Contract grower opportunities for existing landholders in sugar and rotational cropping
Annual production of up to four million tonnes of sugar cane, producing up to 500,000 tonnes of sugar crystal
Multiplier effects on local businesses from major sugar industry
Construction of sugar mill at an estimated cost of $425million, with potential for second mill train
Development of co-generation power plant with potential output of 60 to 80MW and ability to supply surplus power back into the grid
Strategy to underpin local indigenous civil contractors
About 350 local construction jobs/more than 400 operational jobs once full production achieved by 2021
Potential ethanol plant
Potential for medium density fibre board plant annually producing up to 300,000 tonnes
Possible establishment of industrial park at Kununurra
Major upgrade of Wyndham Port facilities
Premier and State Development Minister’s office - 6552 5200
Regional Development and Lands Minister’s office - 6552 5500