Seafarms confident in NT prawn funds

Australia's biggest prawn farm will be built in the Northern Territory with Seafarms opening an office in Darwin this week for its $2 billion project.

The company that wants to build one of the world's largest largest prawn farms in the Northern Territory says it could be up and running in less than two and a half years.

Seafarms still has to secure financing for Project Sea Dragon, which is estimated to cost more than $2 billion, but managing Director Chris Mitchell said he was confident it would because it "stacks up".

Project Sea Dragon's headquarters were opened in Darwin this week, providing positive optics for the NT Government a day after it released a debt and deficit-laden budget but argued the economy was improving after the end of the LNG project construction boom.

The project had the capacity to provide between 1500 and 1600 permanent full-time jobs in fields from mechanical engineering to mechanics and science, said Dr Mitchell.

There will be five sites in the NT and Western Australia, including a processing plant at Kununurra before shipping 150,000 tonnes of black tiger prawns to customers around the world.

All approvals are in place, including environmental and Indigenous land use agreements.

The remaining step is getting the money before construction can start, which will itself create 300 to 400 jobs, which it hopes to secure within six months.

"Project Sea Dragon has the potential to be the world's biggest prawn aquaculture project and we are confident the Northern Territory will benefit from this project, through creation of sustainable jobs and by diversifying the local economy," Dr Mitchell said.

The ASX-listed company recently raised $24 million from investors, while the NT Government has helped with $56 million to fund roadworks around remote locations at Legune Station and Gunn Point.

It is also hoping to get federal government funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

"I think people understand this kind of project is really important for the economic development of northern Australia generally, there is massive opportunities in aquaculture," Dr Mitchell said.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he believed in the project and had himself met with executives from seafood giant Nissui in Japan, which has contributed $28 million.

"It takes a bold vision to look at the north and say we see opportunities for a brand new export business," he said.

"This is worth potentially the equivalent of our live cattle trade if not more, I am confident the Territory has got more good days ahead of us than bad."

The quickest scenario has the project in production by the end of the 2021 Dry Season.

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