Development of the algae industry in the Pilbara will potentially create jobs and investment outside the resource sector, according to a State Government report.
The Pilbara Algae Industry Study’s purpose was to determine the potential land and infrastructure needs to expand the industry.
Aurora Algae already operates in Karratha after opening a demonstration facility last year.
Founder and managing director Matthew Caspari said the report was great news for the company and more broadly, the aquaculture industry.
“It’s great to see the Government taking this so seriously,” he said.
“You have three different government departments coming together; you’ve got the Department of Regional Development and Lands through their Pilbara Cities office, the Department of Fisheries and State Development all coming together putting capital behind this report. I see this as extremely positive.”
Mr Caspari said there was an opportunity for WA to be a world-leader in the algae industry.
“I think the Government sees this as an opportunity to kick-start a broad industry,” he said.
Aurora can produce bio-diesel, health foods and pharmaceuticals from the algae which is harvested and dried before the oil is extracted for the multitude of uses.
Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Lally said any new industry would be beneficial to the region.
“The secret for the region is to diversify the economy and then we’re not subject so much to price fluctuations in the resources industry,” he said.
Mr Lally said the Pilbara was a perfect place for developing an algae industry.
“We’ve got plenty of what they want up here – they need sun, flat areas of land near the sea and also carbon dioxide,” he said.
“It’s a win-win all round.”
The bio-diesel produced from the algae industry is something Mr Lally said was constantly in demand in the Pilbara.
“There is millions of litres a day (of diesel) used in the Pilbara,” he said.
“The higher the price of oil gets, the more viable it becomes.”
Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls said an expanded algae industry in the Pilbara would play an important role in providing economic diversification in the region.
He said the State Government would continue to work with and support the industry and would consider options for common-use infrastructure.