Irrigation technology developed in northern Victoria will be a key part of a new $200million deal between Rubicon Water and a Chinese province.
Under the joint venture agreement, equipment and technology built in Shepparton will be exported to China.
Rubicon Water expects the extra business will result in more jobs at the Shepparton factory, particularly in the technical area.
The company, which developed automated channel technology for the Foodbowl Modernisation Project, already employs about 140 people at its Shepparton plant.
The company is considering whether its present site and buildings in Wheeler St are big enough to cope with the anticipated expansion.
The signing of the new agreement at the Gansu province capital of Lanzhou was attended by the Australian Ambassador to China, Jan Adams, and a host of senior Chinese Government officials.
The joint venture has been set up to implement Rubicon’s Total Channel Control Network Control technology throughout the province’s irrigation districts.
Rubicon Water chief executive Bruce Rodgerson said Rubicon had been operating in China since 2009 and this represented its largest Chinese opportunity to date, giving the joint venture potential access to fully-funded shovel-ready projects worth $200million over the next five years.
‘‘This is not only a significant deal for Rubicon, but it is an important opportunity for this water-scarce province to replicate what Australia’s irrigation districts have done,’’ Mr Rodgerson said.
‘‘Our solution will enable them to significantly improve water-use efficiency, making more water available for increased agricultural production or for industrial or environmental uses.’’
The news of the deal comes at a critical time for the region.
Millions of dollars in spending has been sucked out of the region by depressed dairy prices, but public and private expenditure in northern Victoria has been ramped up.
Booth Transport is investing $9million in a new transport hub at Strathmerton, dairy processor Fonterra has started using its $150million Stanhope factory cheese plant upgrade and the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections project is spending about $100million in northern Victoria over winter.