For many years invasive native scrub (INS) has been a large problem for landholders in the Cobar Shire and there’s been a number of ideas put forward on how to deal with it.
The latest proposal by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana is to build a Biohub in the Cobar Shire which RDA believes would be sustainable and also be a great economic opportunity for the Cobar region.
Cobar Shire Council hosted an information night about the BioHub Project on Friday at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club with more than 70 people (primarily local landholders) turning out to hear how the project would work.
Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko said this could be an important business opportunity for the shire.
“If there’s any opportunity for your land to become more productive, then we’re here to help,” he said.
At the presentation Mark Glover of EcoWaste Pty Ltd explained what a BioHub is and how it works, and detailed how a BioHub could work in Cobar.
“The starting point for the study was how to get enough value out of the products to be able to reimburse landholders the costs of clearing.
“To make this work, we need to allocate all the biomass to its highest value use,” Mr Glover said.
He said there will be a range of outputs from the Cobar BioHub, including sawlogs and specialty timbers, essential oils, biochar, “clean” energy and high-value industrial materials used in steel manufacture.
“It’s really important that the supply of biomass material is sustainable,” Mr Glover said.
“That’s what the big steel makers are looking for, so they can market their steel as being more environmentally friendly – it’s worth huge sums of money to them.”
He said the world was moving away from fossil fuels and towards to a biomass economy.
“It’s part of a global movement,” he said.
“We’ve secured a funding source and now to make this happen the only thing missing is the suppliers.
“We need a secure supply chain,” Mr Glover said, which is where the local landholders with INS on their properties come in.
Peter Yench, local landholder and RDA Orana committee member, was delighted with both the attendance at Friday’s presentation and the positive reaction from the audience.
“This is such an important economic opportunity for the whole Western Division,” Mr Yench said.
“We need people to show their interest to keep the project moving along.
“Into the future, I would like to see a whole network of these facilities throughout the western area, not just Cobar.”
Robyn Lamont, acting executive officer, RDA Orana said they are now looking to establish a steering committee to help identify and resolve issues of concern, such as how supply contracts might work.
“People who would like to be part of the committee and help direct the project are encouraged to contact RDA Orana to express their interest,” Ms Lamont said.