A new sandalwood oil processing facility has been opened in the Goldfields.
The Australian Dutjahn Botanical Products’ sandalwood oil processing facility, a joint venture between Dutjahn Custodians and Australian Botanical Products, was established in Boulder and is expected to provide significant indigenous employments opportunities.
WA Forestry Minister Mia Davies said the facility resulted from a state government commitment to restructure the sandalwood industry with key objectives to create market stability, prioritise regional investment and open up opportunities for new industry entrants.
“As a result of the restructure this new processing facility is opening today, which will drive local employment and tourism opportunities. And of equal importance, it will see oil distilled in the Rangelands where the iconic species naturally grows," Ms Davies said in a statement.
“This is a great achievement by the Dutjahn people and will have wide benefits for the region and for the entire State.”
The state government claimed the sales, marketing and processing structure for the sandalwood industry remained unchanged for 20 years before it embarked on an industry review and subsequent restructuring.
It includes the entry of an additional oil processor, splitting the processing and sales agent roles and maintaining a range of harvest and haulage contracts.
“The new structures are finalised and underpinned by $245 million in contracts between industry and the Forest Products Commission across the supply chain,” the Minister said.
“New long-term harvesting contracts will secure work for regional businesses, creating opportunities for pastoralists and Aboriginal communities through smaller contracts.
“We have also introduced new legislation increasing penalties for illegal harvesting of sandalwood, are funding additional position to enforce the legislation and will implement a Legal Verification Process that tracks sandalwood resource from harvest to sale.”
Under new oil processing contracts, the Forest Products Commission will supply sandalwood to Mount Romance in Albany and Australian Dutjahn Botanical Products.
The minister also released the Native Sandalwood Industry Strategy which aims to achieve long-term profitability and sustainability of the industry.
Indigenous opportunies in relation to this new investment go beyond processing.
In November 2015 the Birriliburu Traditional Owners entered into a commercial agreement with Kutkabubba
Aboriginal Corporation (Kutkabubba) in relation to Sandalwood harvesting.
In June 2016 Birriliburu's Mungarlu Ngurrarankatja Rirraunkaja (Aboriginal Corporation) agreed to progress the creation of a Sandalwood harvesting reserve over which MNR will be the leaseholder.
"MNR hopes that this agreement with Kutkabubba and the progress towards a Sandalwood harvesting reserve
sets a trend for the future of more economic benefits derived from outside the mining industry," the corporation stated in its 2016 annual report.