SYDNEY, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Australia's Queensland state have approved a major solar-powered abattoir, touted as the first of its kind in the country, in a move to boost a pillar industry facing increasing challenges such as drought, local media reported on Saturday.
The meat-processing plant, costing more than 300 million Australian dollars (217 million U.S. dollars), boasts a renewable, solar-energy facility to handle up to 2,400 head of cattle a day, the ABC news channel reported.
The solar farm near the state's Gladstone region will make the beef processing plant more viable considering its vulnerability to higher electricity costs and need for better water management amid efforts to keep the business sustainable through dry weather, according to project builder Asia Pacific Agri-Corp and its partners.
The plant is set to begin construction early next year.
"This development will open up massive job increases for laborers in the Gladstone region by providing employment to dozens of non-trade occupations such as cattle workers, forklift drivers, and other processing workers," said local lawmaker Glenn Butcher.
Queensland is Australia's main producer and exporter of beef, with the meat processing sector alone employing about 18,000 workers, according to state agriculture figures.