A trial of irrigation systems in the State’s north-west will use surplus mine water to grow food and biofuel.
The State Government has committed $12.5million in Royalties for Regions funding to establish two pilot projects growing irrigated crops in the Pilbara.
The Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative (PHADI) was announced today by Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston and Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls.
Sorghum will be grown at Woodie Woodie on Warrawagine Station in the eastern Pilbara, which can be then used for biofuel in the mining industry, as well as cattle fodder. A second site in the central Pilbara is under consideration.
The Woodie Woodie mines, 120km east of Australia’s official hottest town, Marble Bar, are licensed to discharge up to 60 gigalitres of groundwater a year.
The trial will start with a 150ha farm operation and could be expanded to several thousand hectares with private sector participation.
Mr Baston said surplus water from mine dewatering offered a largely untapped resource.
“This is about teaming agriculture with mining to grow fodder for the pastoral industry and biofuel for the resource sector. The knowledge uncovered through these pilot projects will be vital to Western Australia being able to develop systems for world-leading irrigated agriculture,” he said.
Mr Grylls said the Woodie Woodie trial would measure sorghum fodder production potential as a means of drought-proofing and expanding Pilbara beef herds.
“The Pilbara economy is overwhelmingly reliant on the mining industry at present. Industrial diversification through irrigated agriculture is crucial in securing economic sustainability for the region’s growing population,” he said.
PHADI will be run by the Department of Agriculture and Food in partnership with the Pilbara Development Commission and Department of Regional Development.
Agriculture and Food Minister’s office - 6552 5400
Regional Development Minister’s office - 6552 5500