SOUTH Australian business Yumbah Aquaculture says it is ready to lift an investment freeze on its Kangaroo Island abalone farm, confident a proposed nearby export wharf will not go ahead.

The export wharf is sought by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, but opposed by many other businesses with links to aquaculture or eco-tourism.

Timber stocks on the island were impacted by recent bushfires.

Yumbah director Anthony Hall said they were ready to unlock an initial $1m capital investment for Yumbah KI for two reasons.

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“First, KI post-fires needs confidence from genuine – not imagined or speculated – and immediate business investment to support the economy, jobs and skills. Yumbah can do that, starting immediately,” Mr Hall said.

“Second, Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has made it clear that KI won’t need a timber wharf for perhaps 20 years, and only then if its plantations are replanted. So the risk that has paralysed our investment plans for Smith Bay has abated.

“Like all KI residents we mourn the damage and loss resulting from the fires. However, Yumbah cannot see how Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers can finance, build or operate its KI Seaport concept after the loss of its commercial plantations. 

Mr Hall said Yumbah’s initial $1m investment would see repairs and upgrades of Smith Bay infrastructure. 

But investment beyond that remains parked until the KI Seaport concept is formally removed.

According to Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, a deep-water wharf at Smith Bay would be suitable for international timber, passenger and general cargo ships.

“Once established, the Kangaroo Island Seaport will handle about 12 shipments of plantation timber a year, and will be used for about 60 days each year for timber exports,” KIPT stated.

“Consistent with South Australian Government requirements, the wharf will be a genuine multi-user, multi-cargo facility. Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Pty Ltd will pay to build the wharf but it will be able to be used by a variety of industries.”

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