by Cathy Adams
THE companies behind two major new ventures in Casino have formed an alliance.
PUF Ventures Australia (PVA) last month announced Casino was the site chosen for a multi-million dollar cannabis facility. The facility would make Casino the centre of Australia's burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry with a one million-square-foot cannabis greenhouse and processing plant, employing 300 people and producing 100,000 kilograms of cannabis a year at capacity.
Brisbane based Utilitas Group Pty Ltd, have proposed to build a crowd-funded biohub facility to transform organic waste and waste water from the Richmond Valley into energy, clean water and other bio-products.
They have partnered with Domacom to raise $4.3 million to secure the site and develop the biohub.
Now, the two companies have formed an alliance.
Through the alliance, PVA will have long term access to stable environmentally friendly energy, nutrients and reclaimed water generated by the Utilitas bioHub.
"There are significant economic and environmental benefits to be gained through the alliance with Utilitas," President and CEO of PUF Ventures Australia Michael Horsfall said.
"The Utilitas bioHub in Casino, New South Wales, has been designed to create dispatchable renewable electricity, green natural gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), valuable nutrients and reclaimed water as part of a closed-loop resource recovery process. These are all critical inputs for a large greenhouse operation.
"Together with Utilitas, we can create the world's first closed-loop, resource recovery, medicinal cannabis facility, utilising the huge local biomass from the agricultural and food processing industries to pioneer world-leading clean technologies."
Fiona Waterhouse, CEO of Utilitas Group said: "I give high praise to the Richmond Valley Council for its proactive efforts in securing such a high value anchor tenant like PUF Ventures Australia to co-locate with the Casino bioHub.
"Securing PUF Ventures to have local, affordable clean energy and nutrients to grow healthy plants and affordable long-term price is a win for the region, community, and environment. It's also going to create new, local employment, and reduce environmental impacts from waste and emissions."
The long-term success of any licensed cannabis producer is the ability to leverage economies of scale in its grow operations and be a low-cost producer with a premium product. Those companies with state-of-the-art operations with long term access to affordable energy and nutrients, which are critical cost drivers, will be successful.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis on Wednesday sang the praises to colleagues in the NSW Legislative Assembly of the two innovative industries.
"These are two very exciting cutting edge industries proposed for Casino," Mr Gulaptis said.
"This is a clear reminder that regional NSW is at the forefront of developing new and innovative industries."
Mr Gulaptis told the Legislative Assembly that regional NSW offered wonderful opportunities to new and innovative industries that want to relocate: cheaper land, more accessible transport options, technical expertise and a willing and able workforce.
He said PVA would employ 300 people at full capacity and Utilitas intended to engage local contractors to build their project, and three jobs will be created at the plant. The project will also provide employment opportunities for the sale and transport of by-products. Subject to successful capital raising and an approved regulatory pathway, the biohub is estimated to be fully operational within a 12-month period.
"So come to Casino and be a world leader," Mr Gulaptis concluded.