Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan says an initial report presented to the government has recommended Cloncurry’s Cave Hill Dam project should move to a demonstration farm stage.
“Consultant Jacob’s are saying we should look at the next step to do demonstration farm between 100 and 500 hectares to really drill down on the viability of agriculture in the region,” Senator Canavan said.
“I’ve spoken to Greg (Cloncurry Mayor Greg Campbell) and he is supportive of it.”
Senator Canavan had more work remained on the business case for a dam on the Upper Cloncurry River.
“The key uncertainty would be the productivity of these crops so I’m going to look at whether we can get CSIRO funding or the CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) for Northern Australia to get this demonstration farm going as soon as possible,” he said.
“My ambition is we can help drought protect Queensland by developing the rivers in the north.”
Senator Canavan said they needed state government support to provide the land for Cave Hill and he wanted Glencore to access the water.
“This would be a great cooperative venture between all levels of government, mining, agriculture to see this go forward,” he said.
Cr Campbell welcome Senator Canavan’s support.
“The business case has indicated farming is viable with a commercial-sized trial farm,” Cr Campbell said.
“We’ve already identified that through our smaller biofuels trial we did with MITEZ so it’s good the two reports indicate the same thing.”
Cr Campbell said the Jacob’s report said Cave Hill Dam was crucial to the viability of agriculture in the North West.
“It is a critical long-term project.”
Jacob’s has released the preliminary business case and is due to release the detailed case next month.
The Cave Hill site is about 20km upstream of Cloncurry.