Indian investors, with US backing, have embarked on a multimillion dollar agribusiness venture in New South Wales that aims to become a major oilseed processor and exporter, and eventually produce biofuel.
The company, Riverina Oils & Bio Energy (ROBE), has begun building a AUS$63 million (€38.8m) oilseed crushing and edible oil refining plant in the Riverina at Wagga Wagga.
The plant, which will process canola, safflower, cottonseed, soybean and sunflower seeds, will have an initial capacity of 170,000 tonnes a year. It is expected to be in production by October 2010.
The venture is backed by the Indian Bhoruka Group of Bangalore businessman S. N. Agarwal, who is ROBE's chairman and chairman of India's largest trucking company, Transport Corporation of India.
The other Indian investor is businessman Ravi Uppal, who heads the power division of Indian engineering giant Larsen & Toubro.
The US investor, California-based Lotus Ventures, is a technology investor with a background in start-ups and bio-energy.
Animal feed and export of oil
ROBE aims to export some of its 65,000 tonnes a year of refined vegetable oil to food industry customers in India, Japan, and other parts of Asia, Europe and the US.
It also aims to produce 105,000 tonnes a year of vegetable protein cake for use in Australia's poultry, dairy and animal feed industry.
The processing plant is expected to create 65 direct jobs in phase one, and up to 500 jobs indirectly through construction and transport.