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Namoi Cotton interested in establishing a North Queensland cotton gin, in partnership with growers

Ben Harden
By Ben Harden
Updated January 21 2022 - 7:06am, first published 4:00am
A cotton farm on the southern part of the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. Photo: Emmalee Jonsson

Australia's biggest ginner Namoi Cotton is considering expanding its Queensland footprint by establishing a cotton gin, in partnership with growers, in North Queensland.

With several NQ growers transporting their cotton hundreds of kilometres down south to Emerald to be processed, many believe the industry's time has finally come to develop a gin in the region.

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Namoi is openly pondering potential new ginning opportunities in the state's north, with representatives recently visiting the region to speak with growers and gauge interest.

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Namoi Cotton chief executive officer John Stevenson said the organisation was interested in managing a gin and opening new feed options for the northern cattle industry.

"We're interested in the process of ginning more so than the lint aspect of ginning," Mr Stevenson said.

"Historically, the ginning made sense, if you can make enough margin on lint, in order to spring it out throughout the whole process.

"We've got much more interest in terms of being paid for our expertise to design, build and operate the gin.

"I'm very interested to see how we can get the cotton seed into the local cattle industry in both North Queensland and Western Australia. I think there's a huge opportunity there."

Cottonseed is a suitable supplement for stock grazing low quality feed, such as cereal stubble or mature or drought affected tropical grass pasture with no visible green content.

For every tonne of lint produced there is over a tonne of cotton seed.

One of many loads of cotton from north Australia on the way to gins in southern Queensland. Photo: Sally Gall.

Mr Stevenson said cotton growers were desperate to see a gin in North Queensland.

"I think from a grower perspective, I don't think there's any doubt that they see the opportunity in cotton," he said.

"To a certain extent, it's an economic game in terms of the transport differential at this stage that's driving them.

"The workforce is a bit more attractive up there and I think there are more opportunities, up there from a workforce perspective.

"I think they're being driven by the economics immediately, but I think if we can sell them on a bigger picture it could be more effective."

Still very early in the stage of discussions, Mr Stevenson could not confirm a location where they would possibly establish a cotton gin in the north.

"More research in terms of where the best position will be but I could not even give you an indication of where would be the likely likely location at this point," he said.

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Those in the industry believe growing 50,000 - 60,000 bales of cotton a year will be necessary to establish a gin in the region.

Namoi Cotton said it would manage the gin in a partnership with growers being the shareholders.

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Ben Harden

Ben Harden

Queensland Country Life Journalist

Based in Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Contact: 0437528907

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