MORE northern Queensland beef may soon be flowing through the Port of Townsville, after plans for an inland meat-processing facility took another step forward.

Flinders Shire Council recently signed a business plan with Chinese firm CNVM Investments to commit to building the Hughenden Processing Facility, which is set to open in 2022.

The plan is to process daily up to 1000 head of cattle into quarters. They would then be frozen and shipped to China via the Port of Townsville.

The ABC reported the Flinders Shire Council mayor, Jane McNamara, said the process of negotiating the contract was long, and included two other partners.

“It’s been a couple of years now since we had three partners, now it’s just the Flinders Shire Council and CNVM going forward with the development of this project,” she said.

“Importantly this new project will provide the opportunity to expand, develop further export channels, and grow the domestic supply chain for Queensland beef into China.”

Chief executive of CNVM Investments Miao Wang said this development may lead to more Chinese investment.

“This is a very exciting project not only for CNVM and partners along the supply chain to China, but also for further developing good working relationships,” she said.

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The meat-processing facility was given major project status in November 2017. The Australian government said it could provide up to 300 jobs and provide graziers with an alternative path to market for cattle.

At the time, the government said CNVM would invest more than $100m to develop the plant in Hughenden.

Then-acting minister for industry, innovation and science Michaelia Cash said the project would have major benefits for the region.

“This plant will have the capacity to process around 180,000 head of cattle per year and frozen meat will be exported to the Asia-Pacific region,” Minister Cash said.

“The project is estimated to provide over 300 full time jobs in a region impacted by high youth unemployment. It will also create opportunities for indigenous workers in the area.”

Hughenden is about 380 kilometres by road west of Townsville, and is on the Great Northern Railway line, which runs between Townsville and Mt Isa.

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