The Northern Territory (NT) government has made significant progress in its plans for the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct, issuing “not to deal” commitments to five proponents for specific land parcels within the 1,500-hectare site.

Companies such as Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), Total Eren, Tivan, Avenira, and Tamboran Resources have secured land in the precinct, signaling a major step forward in the Territory’s green hydrogen and minerals processing projects.

FFI and Total Eren, both engaged in green hydrogen initiatives, are set to develop their projects within the Middle Arm precinct. While FFI has not disclosed the details of its proposed project, Total Eren signed a non-binding agreement last year to establish a green hydrogen project near Darwin, featuring over 2 GW of solar capacity and a 1 GW electrolyzer to produce more than 80,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen annually.

In addition to the hydrogen projects, minerals companies Tivan and Avenira plan to build facilities in the Middle Arm precinct for vanadium processing and lithium phosphate battery minerals processing, respectively. These projects align with the Territory’s focus on fostering a sustainable and diversified economy.

However, the inclusion of Tamboran Resources, which aims to develop a gas processing facility supported by fracking operations in the Beetaloo Basin, has raised concerns among critics regarding the environmental impact of the Middle Arm precinct. NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, on the other hand, reaffirms the government’s commitment to sustainability, stating that the project will contribute to the Territory’s clean energy goals and drive job creation.

The NT government anticipates that the collective investment from the projects awarded land exclusivity in the Middle Arm precinct will reach tens of billions of dollars, generating approximately 20,000 jobs. The government’s allocation of land provides a 12-month period for developers to continue advancing their proposals, including facility designs, engineering work, pre-feasibility studies, and environmental approvals.

Parallel to these developments, the federal government has granted $1 million for a feasibility study to explore the potential of a clean hydrogen market in Darwin. The Darwin Clean Hydrogen Hub joint feasibility study will evaluate opportunities for supplying clean hydrogen solutions to both domestic and international customers.

With an existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) export hub and the construction of a 35 MW/35 MWh battery storage system underway, the Middle Arm precinct is poised to become a key player in the Territory’s sustainable energy landscape. The Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System is expected to be operational later this year, further contributing to the region’s renewable energy capacity.

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