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A $90 million plant to produce methane-reducing cattle feed using seaweed is being built in South Australia

- June 25, 2021 2 MIN READ
Adam Main, general manager of CH4 in Australia, Steven Clarke and Sasi Nayar, both of whom work for the South Australian Research and Development Institute, where CH4 has tested and developed products. Photo: supplied
Construction of the first processing plant to use a seaweed-based feed supplement for cows to reduce their methane production by 90% will begin near Port Pirie towards the end of this year.

The $90 million advanced processing facility will be built by Pirie Meats, with CH4 Global, Organic Technology Holdings and Siemens Australia signed up as innovation partners.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year and the facility will commence initial operations within a year.

Once developed the site will act as “processing innovation hub” with the aim of driving further innovation in sustainable, carbon-neutral processing in the agriculture sector.

Cattle are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with every one of the 1.5 billion cows on the planet producing about 100kg of methane a year.

CSIRO research found that the red seaweed Asparagopsis mixed with regular cattle feed at a rate of 100 grams per cow per day reduced methane production by 90%.

CH4 Global has purchased a licence from patent owners CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University and gained regulatory approval for the material to be allowed to sell it in Australia.

The cold water Asparagopsis species occurs naturally and grows well in New Zealand and also in southern Australia.

In what’s claimed to be a world-first agreement, CH4 Global will initially provide Pirie Meats with enough Asparagopsis seaweed supplement for up to 10,000 head of cattle.

The red seaweed will be cultivated by CH4 in South Australia where the company has signed a partnership agreement with the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC).

“CH4 believes in circular and regenerative economic principles and is extremely excited by our collaboration with Pirie Meats and partnership with NNAC.” Said CH4 Global CEO and co-founder Steve Meller.

“Working with the Narungga Aboriginal Nation to generate maximum sustainable benefit for its people – jobs, training, and a leadership role in climate mitigation is what CH4 is all about.”

CEO of Pirie Meats Reg Smyth said the expanded facility would establish a new standard for the future of sustainable livestock production and processing.

“Through strategic design of our operations and plant, our goal is for whole-of-animal product optimisation,” he said.

“Benefits will be realised from commitment to carbon-neutral operations, achieving our re-use targets and from a complete change in the way we process and what we produce.

“In addition to the more traditional processing operations, our facility will be capable of transitioning what was processing waste or very low-value product into high value human and medical-grade materials through a unique secondary processing line.”

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