Construction is expected to start this week on a $20 million abattoir in the Kimberley, with 50 per cent of its product already sold to Singapore.
Jack and Vicki Burton of Yeeda Pastoral Company and their equity partners in the venture, Michelle and Mervyn Key of Kimberley Pastoral Investments, announced on Saturday their longterm plans for the abattoir had come together quicker than expected.
Mr Burton said an offtake agreement had been secured to supply the free range beef product to Singapore – a deal the investors involved saw as “a strategic investment in securing the future supply of beef ”, for a country which currently imported 95 per cent of its food.
He said the facility, between Broome and Derby, should “hit its straps” by 2014, when it would process at least 55,000-60,000 head of cattle a year.
By that stage the facility would need supplies of cattle from other producers – meaning it could help the Kimberley cattle industry clear a two-year glut of heavier cattle, which have been unsuitable for export since Indonesia introduced weight restrictions in 2010.
“This would never be for the replacement of live export, but for cattle that don’t suit live export,” Mr Burton said. He said it would create up to 60 jobs, and he was keen to create opportunities for local indigenous employment and training.
Saturday’s announcement was not only to garner support from the Kimberley pastoral industry, local government and departments also present, but to officially receive endorsement from the WA Government, which Agriculture Minister Terry Redman was only too proud to give.
Mr Redman said he was pleased to see the Burtons’ confidence in the industry and willingness to take a risk in a project with huge potential.
“We are supportive of anyone that’s prepared to take some risk in developing [such] agricultural opportunities,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the day we cut the ribbon on that facility and see this become the sharp point for agriculture in the north.” The facility is expected to be built by September, 2013.
There has not been an abattoir in the Kimberley since Broome’s meatworks closed in 1994.
Meanwhile, Yeeda Pastoral also planned to open retail butcher in Chinatown this week.