News and media


November 29, 2016

Sahara Forest Project and Yara to explore green growth in Pilbara

Sahara Forest Project (SFP) has involved Yara to start a feasibility study to explore opportunities for producing food, freshwater and clean energy near the Western Australian city of Karratha, greening arid areas at the same time.
Representatives for the Sahara Forest Project
Representatives for the Sahara Forest Project

From left to right: Vinod Patel - Yara Pilbara Fertilisers, Cr Peter Long -Mayor City of Karratha, Hon. Terry Redman - Minister for Regional Development; Lands, Kjetil Stake - Vice President of The Sahara Forest Project, Pierre Herben - Chief Technology Officer Yara International, Rob Stevens - Plant Manager Yara Pilbara, and Terry Hill - CEO Pilbara Development Commission.

Yara, a major employer in Karratha, is continuously looking for opportunities to develop and diversify the region further. Having already cooperated with the SFP on their pilot project in Qatar, Yara is looking forward to be part of a study to test the viability of an innovative scheme for growing food for commercial use close to its fertilizer and technical ammonium nitrate plants in Pilbara.

“Yara’s core business is to provide sustainable solutions for increased food production and a cleaner environment. We are excited about supporting this project, and contribute with our industrial experience and nutrient knowledge in the search for new and cutting-edge ways to close the gap between future demands and available resources,” said Pierre Herben, CTO of Yara.

“Through Yara Pilbara we are committed to making a positive contribution to Western Australia and the Pilbara, not just through our downstream processing operations but our ongoing community investment and support for forward thinking environmental initiatives such as the Sahara Forest Project,” he said.

Green technologies

The study is supported by the Western Australian Government’s Royalties for Regions Fund and the City of Karratha and The Sahara Forest Project. The total cost of the feasibility study is about half a million Australian dollars.

The cooperation agreement was signed by Hon. Terry Redman, Minister of Regional Development, Mayor Peter Long from the City of Karratha, Vice President Kjetil Stake of The Sahara Forest Project, and Chief Technology Officer Pierre Herben from Yara International ASA (Yara) at the New Pilbara Conference in Perth on November 29.

The initiative was launched from the stage at the New Pilbara Conference in Perth, Australia today, where Mr. Stake introduced the start of a detailed feasibility study to assess infrastructure requirements, environmental and social impacts and evaluate the economic viability of intensive agriculture production in the semi-arid environment in Karratha. The study will investigate the potential to realize a new environmental solution using saltwater, sunlight, and CO2 to produce food, freshwater and clean energy.

“The Sahara Forest Project is buzzing with excitement to join forces with Yara and local and State authorities to see if we could realize our truly unique and innovative system of green technologies for the first time here in Australia”, Vice President of The Sahara Forest Project, Kjetil Stake said.

Will start the work this week

The feasibility study will kick-off this week, and the conclusions from the extensive expert report are scheduled to be ready in November 2017.

“The Pilbara region has among the best solar resources in the world, and the existing saltwater infrastructure and available land is of great interest to us. We learnt during our previous trip that local and regional authorities are focusing on opportunities for green growth. I am proud to announce that we have been able to take it a step further – from conversation to action. Our staff is now eager to start exploring how The Sahara Forest Project can help contribute to a new Pilbara”, Stake said.

The feasibility study will hopefully pave way for commercialization of this green technology system for large scale implementation with a vision to produce energy, food and fresh water not only for the citizens of the city of Karratha.