Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 12/02/2003, pg. 7


QUEENSLAND farmers are poised to capitalise on what could be one of Australia’s next boom

industries — ethanol.

Dalby graingrower David Wise is among many farmers waiting for the Federal Government to decide whether to extend to ethanol the 38.4 a litre fuel excise exemption.

Such a decision would mean grain and sugar farmers across the state would find new markets for their products, which can be used to make the environmentally friendly fuel, which can be blended with oil-based fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Global production already is 32 billion litres a year, including 12 billion litres produced in Brazil from sugar and 7 billion litres, mainly from grain, in the US.

Australia is about 20 years behind these market leaders and has only three ethanol plants.

The only two Queensland factories are CSR’s Mackay operation and a private factory at Rocky Point in Brisbane.

In Dalby a $75 million ethanol factory is ready for construction and construction on a $40 million plant at Mossman in far north Queensland, to produce 40 million litres of ethanol a year, is due
to begin by June this year.

Mr Wise hopes to sell about 1500 tonnes of sorghum a year to the proposed Dalby Bio-Refinery from next year. Despite this year’s early crop yielding only 1.25 tonnes an acre, he is confident seasons will turn around.

“There’s a bright future for Dalby. We have the highest production of sorghum within 100km (of Dalby) of anywhere in the state and our rainfall is more reliable,” he said.

“The central Downs is the most reliable area in Australia for growing dryland sorghum but the past two years have been disastrous.”

This year domestic demand has accounted for the whole harvest, leaving very little grain for export.

But Mr Wise hopes that with better seasons the refinery will provide an extra market.

“I’d like to deliver the first load to the refinery. It’ll be good to see the factory up and running,” Mr Wise said.

“I won’t put all my eggs in one basket. I will contract to the refinery and sell some grain on the spot market so prices even out overall.

“Having a refinery here will put a floor price in the market and stabilise domestic prices.”

Copyright 2003 / Courier Mail