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Lignite to create jobs, social and environmental benefits in Gippsland region

A recently released feasibility study has found the establishment of a Regional Carbon Innovation Centre (RCIC) would have significant economic, social and environmental benefits for the Gippsland region.

The Australian Carbon Innovation partnered with Federation University Australia to evaluate the potential of a large-scale lignite research and feasibility centre in the Latrobe Valley.

By building on current research conducted by Federation University, the centre would develop new carbon-related products and technologies in the lab and turn them into commercial opportunities.

Investigating the viability, key benefits, potential locations, planning considerations and market demand for the centre, the study found exponential benefits in the myriad of carbon products stored in the region not only in brown coal, but paper industries and forests.

Promisingly, the study found that as many as 500 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs would be created from the centre within its first 5 years and provide the Gippsland region with a new and realisable form of economy.

RDA Gippsland Chair, Richard Elkington supports the centre, saying it would enable lignite to transition to a low-carbon future as well as significantly contribute to the Gippsland and Victorian economy.

“We need to separate our perception of lignite’s potential from our understanding of it’s past uses,” Mr Elkington said. “The truth is, a significant proportion of new generation products from lignite are carbon neutral or lead to a negative carbon emissions profile.”

Lignite has been a significant resource in the Latrobe Valley, but the state’s most abundant resource will need to adopt to the opportunities presented by emerging carbon technologies, products and markets.

“The next step in the process to realising a positive lignite future is a detailed but modest cost business case, which I am hopeful will be supported by government and industry,” said Mr Elkington.

“By helping lower the costs associated with lignite, this centre would catapult the supply into the domestic and overseas market - investing in innovative uses for lignite now will secure a positive outcome for our economy and the environment into the future.”

RDA Gippsland, Regional Partnerships, Latrobe City Council and more than 17 separate local and international industry organisations all have strong support for the centre.

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