A CENTRAL Queensland mining company is looking to develop a large scale biomass cropping enterprise in the region as part of its plan to expand into renewables.
Idemitsu Australia Resources’ trial of the viability of a large-scale commercial biomass cropping enterprise at its Ensham mine, near Emerald, has been backed by the Queensland Government.
Idemitsu Renewable Developments Australia (IRDA) is investing $200,000 in a trial to assess the viability of producing a fully renewable biomass product that can be used with coal to reduce carbon emissions from power stations.
The trial will identify and evaluate crops, such as sweet sorghum, as biomass feedstock, with the assessment expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
It signifies a significant step forward for Idemitsu as the company continues to look at expanding into renewables and cogeneration.
Chief commercial officer, Chris Walsh, said while Ensham was a long-life asset for the company and with production plans out to 2038, Idemitsu was embracing opportunities in renewables.
“The development of a viable biomass supply is a key long-term strategy for Idemitsu, including the possibility of a ‘Biomass Hub’ being developed and operated at Ensham,” he said.
“The hub would encompass a large-scale cropping and palletisation plant, creating much needed construction jobs, as well as up to 75 ongoing operational jobs.
“With the support of the Queensland Government the project has the potential to be a catalyst for the large-scale export of biomass commodities from Queensland.
“Successful development of a viable biomass supply chain would place Queensland at the forefront of this emerging global sector.”
IRDA is also considering significant capital investments in solar energy and potential hydrogen applications.
Idemitsu has put measures in place to ensure COVID-19 does not impact the trial and associated timelines.
“We have made arrangements so that our contractors can visit the site without accessing the mine, ensuring business continuity and COVID-19 risk management for both operations,” Mr Walsh said.