Business bulletin - 23 March 2017

Developing our economic future

Luke Bowen talking to the audience and panel during the summit series 

The economic summits are now reaching their final stage, as the third phase of consultation wraps-up and final preparations are made for economic summits in Alice Springs and Darwin.

General Manager of Northern Australia Development and Trade, Luke Bowen said all Territorians have a role to play and can actively participate in growing the Territory’s economic base.

"Between October 2016 and March 2017 we brought together business and industry, community groups, the not-for-profit sector, Indigenous organisations and government representatives from across the Territory for the series of consultations and public forums," Mr Bowen said.

"More than 150 key organisations and over 600 people have been engaged through the first three phases on consultation."

During the fourth and final stage of consultation, two summits will be held in Alice Springs and Darwin on 24 March and 29 March 2017 respectively, where a draft Economic Development Framework, draft Infrastructure Strategy and draft Infrastructure Plan will be presented to Territorians.

The draft documents represent input from the community and industry so far, but we want to ensure we’ve captured the right priorities and identified the right actions to move the Territory forward.

Alice Springs will host the first of the economic summits tomorrow, with the second to be held in Darwin next week.

The economic summit is open to the public and to register go to the Economic Summits website

NT Major Projects set to create jobs

Artists impression aeriel view of the proposed Darwin Processing Plant 
Photo: Darwin Processing Plant

Hundreds of jobs could be created in the Northern Territory through two new private sector projects awarded Major Project Status.

Last week, the Northern Territory Government signed Project Facilitation Agreements (PFA) with Verdant Minerals Ltd for its $750 million Ammaroo Phosphate Project and TGN for its $850 million Mount Peake Mine and Refinery.

Verdant Minerals plan to operate their project about 180km south east of Tennant Creek and if approved the project could commence construction by the second half of next year, before becoming operational in late 2019.

During construction it is estimated that the workforce will peak at around 300, and once operational there be about 160 direct jobs.

Verdant Minerals Managing Director Mr Chris Tziolis said the project would bring a range of benefits to the region and the Northern Territory during construction and production over the ensuing decades. 

"The development of Ammaroo and other fertiliser mineral projects in the Territory could in time enable the value adding to the minerals to produce finished fertiliser products to service demand in both Asia and Australia, which now imports most of its fertiliser needs," Mr Tziolis said.

"Benefits associated with the development of this industry over time include employment, training and business development opportunities," Mr Tziolis said.

A further 1,700 construction jobs and 600 ongoing jobs in the Territory could also be created through major metals company TNG Limited’s development of the Mount Peake Vanadium-Titanium-Iron Mine, 280km north of Alice Springs and a Darwin refinery.

The $850 million project has the potential for 500 jobs during construction and more than 200 jobs during operation of the mine; plus more than 1,200 jobs during construction and 400 jobs during operation of the refinery.

TNG is undertaking a range of technical, engineering and environmental studies to fully assess the project, before making a final investment decision.

TNG will conduct a full environmental impact study for the refinery during the course of 2017 which will include stakeholder consultations.

Innovation paves the way for remote farming

Group shot of Station Innovation staff 

Territory business, Station Innovation has developed an innovative product, Ecosat, to assist primary producers and farmers remotely monitor their property and infrastructure.

Ecosat remotely monitors properties and infrastructure via satellite and an online mapping platform. The device operates straight out of the box and can be easily moved between tanks, troughs, gates, pumps as required. 

The data gathered by Ecosat is then sent via satellite to the QuickSmart™ Property Map and Web platform. The property manager can then log into their own personal site and access a real time map of their assets and staff; they can also be notified of irregularities by text or email ensuring they are in control, regardless of their location.

Station Innovation’s Director, Mike Farrell said "We envisioned being able to walk past a live electronic property map early in the morning before starting your days’ work, and with a single glance be able to analyse the status of your water points or other infrastructure."

"Starting your day with accurate intelligence will empower you to redirect staff in the opposite direction than first planned, due to Ecosat ability to quickly identify a problem and then relay the information back within minutes.

"Ecosat will also reduce the time and energy spent on bore runs and you can be confident a recently repaired bore is still filling the turkey nest.

"It’s this sort of information that gives enough peace of mind to finally take that town trip you needed as everything looks OK and if a problem arises, you may turn on a pump from your iPhone," he said.

The project has been supported through a $60,000 Business Innovation Support Initiatives grant. The BISI program assists Territory small businesses undertake research and development which could lead to new products, processes or services.

"The BISI grant has enabled us to extend our product development capture area to include a wider variety of technology solutions," Mr Farrell said.

"We have been able to simultaneously develop multiple solutions with increased rigor in testing and evaluation; because of this we have not only developed a more robust product but one which includes the most suitable technology for the task and environment."

Over the next 18 to 24 months the Ecosat system will undergo new and exciting developments, including the integration of drones.

"Drone technology is one of the fastest moving technological areas today and we are hopeful that it will become a very cost effective way to complement the Ecosat system," Mr Farrell said.

"We would also like to further expand our mobile app, to include features which will allow users to mark waypoints and trace roads, tracks and bore runs for future reference on our QuickSmart™ Map," he said.

If you would like more information about Ecosat or how to purchase a unit you can contact Station Innovation on 1300 781 134 or email info@stationinnovation.com.au

Innovation grants, a competitive application process under the Business Innovation Support Initiatives (BISI) program, are now open and close on Monday 12 June 2017.

If you have a great idea and would like to find out more about the BISI program go to the Northern Territory Government website

New horizons for Alice Springs business

Outside view of RapidClean NT building 

Central Australian commercial cleaning supplier and local business owner Steve O’Burtill, has expanded operations to the top end in an exciting new joint business venture.

Steve established his business, Principal Products, in Alice Springs more than 25 years ago. Since then the business has gone on to become the largest supplier of commercial cleaning products and chemicals in Central Australia.

Last year Steve reached out to the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation to access the business growth program for advice on expanding his business from Alice Springs to Darwin.

"The department was tremendously supportive and encouraging of my idea to expand the business. Verve Consulting were then brought in to investigate the opportunities and viability of the proposal," Steve said.

Following the evaluation Steve was given the green light to proceed with his new venture. The next step was to find a suitable business partner.

Principal Products signed up to the NT Indigenous Business Network. Utilising their network, Steve sought expressions of interest for anyone wanting to join their business venture.

"IronBark Aboriginal Corporation were the clear choice, they are a very respected and a well-run organisation. It’s this respect that will assist our joint venture and open up business opportunities that may not have been possible for a new entry in to the region," he said.

The new partnership received support from the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation to develop a new business plan; and IronBark received funding under the Indigenous Business Development program to help fit out the new store in Winnellie.

Several other Territory businesses have also benefitted, either supplying goods or providing services to Ironbark to help set up the store.

"All purchases to set the business up, have been made from NT companies only, some in Alice Springs, but the majority in Darwin, we firmly believe in supporting local supply options."

Trading as RapidClean NT, the partnership will have a strong focus on Indigenous employment and providing career opportunities for Aboriginal people in Darwin and surrounding area.

"Our policy is a minimum of 50% Indigenous employment. As a director and 50% owner in this project I personally would like nothing more than to see us have 100% Indigenous staff. That would be the ultimate success story," he said.

"Without the support of the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation this new business venture would have been more time consuming and costly. I cannot overstate my appreciation for the support provided by the department and Small Business Champions team."

If you would like to discuss your circumstances or support under one of the departments programs you can contact our Small Business Champions team on (08) 8999 5479.

Employment and training exhibitors wanted

Think big. Make it happen. An opportunity for all Territorians to explore job opportunities and identify future career pathways 

Territory training providers, education organisations and employers have an opportunity to showcase their businesses and industries as part of the Skills Employment and Careers Expo.

Registrations are now open for the largest training, jobs and careers roadshow in the Northern Territory.

The Skills Employment and Careers Expo will visit all the major centers during August including Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy and is expected to attract more than 5,500 attendees.

Executive Director of Employment and Skilling NT, Kim Jenkinson said the expo is a one-stop-shop for anyone seeking to explore tertiary studies, training, job and career options.

"It’s also the perfect opportunity for employers to engage with future employees, hand-pick the best talent for their positions and showcase what they have to offer."

One of the most popular features at the Darwin and Alice Springs Skills, the digital Jobs board, is back.

Job seekers can view the job listings at the expo on their smart phones and other devices to email, print and apply for positions on the day.

There are opportunities for everybody on offer during the Territory-wide roadshow and expo attendees will be able to:

  • talk to representatives from different employers, education institutions, training providers and industry groups
  • hear from presenters in topical seminars
  • experience hands-on skill oriented activities.

Exhibitors must register to secure their place at the expo.

For further information or to register contact YouthWorX NT on (08) 8981 8870, email expo@youthworxnt.com.au or view Skills, Employment and Careers Expo.

Innovation grants now open. Have you developed a product or process that you now want to bring to the commerical market? Apply now: nt.gov.au/bisi

Last updated: 22 March 2017