CH4 Global raises $4.1m for SA seaweed trials

A US start-up has put SA at the centre of it plans to develop a new seaweed cattle feed supplement industry. The company will set up test sites across the state this summer in the hope of delivering up to 90 per cent reductions in methane emissions.

A US company establishing a new seaweed cattle feed supplement industry in Australia will kick off trials at test sites across South Australia this summer after raising $US3m ($4.1m) from investors.

CH4 Global will use the funds to begin growing and processing a species of seaweed – known as Asparagopsis armata – at test sites in Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island and the Yorke Peninsula.

According to the company, the seaweed species can reduce methane emissions by up to 90 per cent when added to cows’ fodder.

CH4 South Australia general manager Adam Main said up to 50 part-time workers would be employed across the trial projects.

“Each trial site will be over 1ha,” Dr Main said.

“The three sites will then begin commercial production in 2021, with over 100ha projected to be farmed.

“CH4 projects the size of the seaweed farms will then grow year-on-year from 100 to 2000 ha in the next 5 years.”

CH4, which has operations in SA and New Zealand, has spent more than a year working with SARDI on scaling its Asparagopsis aquaculture plans.

The company has already signed an agreement with the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation to collaborate on a first commercial scale facility near Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula.

Dr Main said South Australia had been identified as the primary market in Australia due to a number of “competitive advantages”.

“Our state has a highly diverse number of seaweed species, large areas of suitable in-sea and onshore coastal water and land for farming, a contemporary and robust regulatory environment and a state-of-the art R&D ecosystem,” he said.

“In addition to the huge environmental impact, the emergence of a seaweed industry in South Australia will deliver significant economic development and employment opportunities in regional South Australia with hundreds of jobs created over the next two to three years.”

Meanwhile, aquaculture businesses in the eastern Spencer Gulf will be able to get involved in the industry – estimated to eventually be worth $140m a year – under proposed changes to allow algae farming.

The state government is consulting the public about plans to allow algae farming in three aquaculture zones in Hardwicke Bay, southwest of Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula.

Up to a maximum of 60ha of algae would be allowed in each of the three zones, with hectares allocated through a “competitive tenure” process.

The government says the Narungga Nation has flagged an interest in growing macroalgae within the region.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said algae production was already allowed in the rest of the eastern Spencer Gulf aquaculture zone and the changes would broaden opportunities for businesses to enter the market.

“It has been estimated that if commercial production systems and processes can be established, seaweed production in the state could be worth $140m a year within three years,” he said.

“Revenue from processing the seaweed could add a further $250m per year to the economy and support 1200 South Australian jobs.”

See how CH4 Global is seeking to impact global climate change in a significant and disruptive way through building a global, multi-billion-dollar red seaweed (Asparagopsis Armata and Asparagopsis Taxiformis) aquaculture investment opportunity

Originally published by the SA Business Journal.