EcoHub plan to boost innovation in Karratha

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Pilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill, EcoMag technical director Tam Tran and general manager Shaun Triner, and City of Karratha chief executive Chris Adams.
Camera IconPilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill, EcoMag technical director Tam Tran and general manager Shaun Triner, and City of Karratha chief executive Chris Adams. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

Karratha could become a centre for innovative emerging industries under an ambitious plan to establish a high-tech precinct in the area.

The City of Karratha is funding a business case to assess options for what it has dubbed an EcoHub, an area dedicated to renewable energy-based enterprises set to be located on a piece of land adjacent to the Karratha Airport.

Mayor Peter Long said the local government was aiming to attract more diverse and sustainable business and employment opportunities to the region.

“Renewable energy-based enterprises are part of a burgeoning new industry for the city, with a number of organisations looking to establish in Karratha,” he said.

“The concept of the EcoHub is to identify a specific area of land with the potential of providing industrial synergies to make these projects more commercially viable.”

“To date, council has provided in-principle support for the Sahara Forest, Rainstorm and EcoMag projects and is funding the development of a business case to assess the options and associated considerations available to the City to facilitate the establishment of the EcoHub.”

Another company, WRS Bioproducts, is also believed to be in talks about setting up a manufacturing facility to produce algae and other products using waste “bitterns” in the area.

EcoMag communications and marketing manager Walter Munro said the company, which launched a pilot project in Karratha early last year, had had “extensive” conversations with the City about the project.

“We’re trying to move forward with this plan to attract other high-tech industries to the area, to co-locate and possibility even share some of the infrastructure,” he said.

“We’re really hoping that this can be the start of something pretty exciting.”

“What will happen is this brand new manufacturing activity in Karratha will mean more business for the port and trucking companies — and more employment.”

Pilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill said the EcoHub concept could establish the Pilbara as a “centre of excellence for innovation” by positioning the region as a liveable place where innovators in the renewable energy space could test new ideas and share knowledge.

“Establishing a development zone for renewable energy, co-located with other high-tech industries, is a significant step in diversifying and expanding the Pilbara’s economic base,” he said.

“The proposed development would provide a fit-for-purpose zone designed for innovative and eco-friendly industries that would support the expansion of the region’s industries beyond iron ore and petroleum.”

The business case is expected to be presented to councillors for consideration in the first quarter of 2019.

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