The miner Rio Tinto is pushing ahead with plans to use excess water from one of its WA Pilbara mines to produce hay to feed cattle.
The multi-million-dollar Hamersley Agricultural Project will be commissioned today with the aim of producing 30,000 tonnes of hay a year from 830 hectares of land growing oats and pasture grass.
The project is expected to use about 20 gigalitres of surplus water a year from Rio’s Marandoo Mine.
Rio’s Allan Jackson says the bulk of the hay will be used on Rio’s five pastoral stations in the Pilbara, but he expects a sizeable portion to be sold to other cattle stations.
“We’ve just got to figure out what we’re going to need on our own cattle stations but probably 40 per cent of that could be available for sale and some pastoralists have expressed some interest,” he said.
He says it is a unique project for the company.
“We’re planning to start seeding on Thursday this week and then the first cut we’ll be looking at before Christmas,” he said.
“That’s dependent on how it goes but we think it will be before Christmas, at least.”