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April 15, 2016

Australia

Sea Dragon Project Update

 

Known as Project Sea Dragon, the $1.5 billion proposal by the Seafarms Group is to build 10,000 hectares of production ponds on Legune Station near the Western Australia/Northern Territory border, capable of producing 100,000 tons of giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) a year for export.

 

Executive director Dr. Chris Mitchell, said the company was aiming to have the project “investment ready” by the end of 2016, and was working to fast-track an initial 2,160 hectares of production ponds.  “We’ve always said that Stage 1 would be 1,080 hectares and we’re now thinking what’s next?  And we’re seeing real opportunity to bring on the second stage of another 1,080 hectares pretty shortly after that,” he said.

 

Dr. Mitchell said the environmental impact statement for Stage 1 and other approvals were needed first.  He said negotiations with native title holders were also progressing well.  “We try to operate on a no-surprises basis and we give as much information to the Traditional Owners and the Northern Land Council as we have on hand....”

 

Dr. Mitchell confirmed the company would be looking to tap into the Federal Government’s new $5 billion Northern Australia infrastructure fund.  “Some of the opportunities related to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) can enable us to bring forward other financing more quickly,” he said.  “We’ve been clearly following this opportunity closely as we try and talk to potential overseas and local investors about how to get the whole project financed.”

 

Dr. Mitchell said the company aimed to start shrimp production in 2019.

 

In a previous interview, the general manager of the Northern Australia Development Office in Darwin, Luke Bowen, said Project Sea Dragon would be deserving of consideration for a NAIF loan.  “The benefits of that [project] when it’s fully developed will be enormous in terms of the number of people being employed in the region,” he said.  “The knock-on effect to contractors, suppliers and people in the local community could be enormous.  So we’d argue that the criteria for [NAIF funding] needs to be flexible enough so that we do have the capacity for projects like that, which do have much wider benefits to a region, to be considered, or at least components of them that relate to critical enabling of infrastructure.”

 

Source: ABC.net.  Plans to Accelerate Development of Project Sea Dragon in the Northern Territory.  Matt Brann.  April  15, 2016.

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