25 June, 2021
Company to manage $198m bid for wool scour facility
Blackall plans to build a new wool scour facility which may bring millions to the region.
A WORLD-CLASS wool scour facility is a step closer to becoming a reality for Blackall, with the establishment of the Queensland Wool Processors Pty Ltd.
The Blackall-Tambo Regional Council conducted a feasibility study last year, in to establishing a modern wool processing and handling facility in the town.
The study showed the construction of the $198 million wool scour facility would create 88 full time jobs.
Once operational, 812 full-time employees would likely be required, including 270 locally, and it generate $116.3 million in gross regional product per year.
The new facility would manage the entire wool handling process locally - from fleece to fabric – rather than sending overseas, strengthening Australia’s wool industry.
The new plant will be far more modernised and thorough than the current wool scour in Blackall, which will, at this stage, stay as a tourist attraction.
Queensland Wool Processors Pty Ltd chairman John Abbott said the idea behind the company’s formation was to establish a dedicated proponent to run the new wool processing facility into a reality.
Mr Abbott conceived the company after witnessing a presentation by Blackall-Tambo Regional Council Mayor Andrew Martin at the National Farmers’ Federation: Towards 2030 event held in Roma two weeks ago.
Mr Abbott and Cr Martin have been in discussions about the wool facility for six months, but it wasn’t until the presentation that Mr Abbott, a CQUniveristy chancellor, decided to create a company to take care of the project.
The company will work to seek financial investment and will head into the community to seek input, source funding for detailed designs and work on gaining government approvals.
“I suspect that will take in the order of four to six months, and once that is completed, that validates the initial feasibility study, we’ll go to the market seek funds to develop the project,” said Mr Abbott.
Mr Abbott said the facility will use modern manufacturing techniques which will maximise throughput and minimise labour costs.
“The main reason you will want to do that is to make it as economically viable as possible,” he said.
“But also recognising the availability of labour in a regional town such as Blackall is not a big as it would be somewhere else.
“So, there is the added advantage that the smaller labour needs would match the demographics of the town we would locate the plant.”
The facility would also appear on the radar of people who are interested in industrial tourism as visitors may be interested in marvelling in its modernity.
Blackall is already on the map for tourists who visit the central west partly due to its placing on the Landsborough Highway — this is another notch in favour of the facility’s viability as its placement on the highway gives it access to primary producers from across Queensland.
Mr Abbott said the facility aims to solve issues with the current wool supply chain which he describes as tenuous and expensive.
“Wool from Blackall or Longreach goes south, then is sold to China to be washed, then goes somewhere else to be spun, it then goes on a ship to Italy or in England or somewhere to be turned into quality fabric,” he said.
“What we’re proposing is a facility where the wool is aggregated in Blackall which is on a major transport route from down south through to Mount Isa and beyond.
“It would be fully processed there and directly exported, to say, the markets in Europe.”
This process could save wool producers in Australia millions.
“The economics are very attractive provided you get the volumes required,” said Mr Abbott “This is a no brainer project.”
Cr Martin said the project would help make the country less reliant on an “increasingly hostile” trading partner in China.
“We’re almost completely reliant on the Chinese for their involvement in the wool industry,” he said.
Cr Martin expressed his concerns over an increasingly uncertain scene for international trade.
Cr Martin said the flow-on effect into other wool-related industries, like fashion, could inject an extra $1 billion into Australia’s economy.
You can find out more information about the Queensland Wool Processors Pty Ltd at www.qwool.com.au.