MATO GROSSO, Brazil — Summit Agricultural Group, a leader in renewable energy, international agribusiness development, and production agriculture, broke ground recently on the first large-scale corn ethanol production facility in Brazil. The $115 million plant is an international collaboration between Iowa-based Summit Agricultural Group and the world-class Brazilian agribusiness, Fiagril.
The production facility is being built in Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a preeminent agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans. Summit CEO Bruce Rastetter estimated that the plant, which will be the only dedicated corn ethanol plant in Brazil, will be completed in mid-2017.
The facility is expected to be the most modern and efficient ethanol plant in the world, and when fully operational it will employ nearly 90 people and produce 60 million gallons of ethanol annually for domestic markets.
Rastetter said the landmark project will bring immediate value to Brazil. First, the plant will help offset the country’s increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can’t be met by the existing sugarcane ethanol production. Second, the new corn ethanol production facility will introduce to the region valuable high fiber and high protein co-products, which will serve as high-value feed for the Brazilian livestock industry.
Summit Agricultural Group’s partner in the corn ethanol project is Fiagril — a diversified company whose operations throughout Mato Grosso and adjoining Brazilian states include biodiesel production, grain trading, crop production inputs and infrastructure development.
The Summit/Fiagril production facility will utilize process technologies from Kansas-based ICM, Inc. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.
Brazil began sugar cane ethanol production in the mid-1970s and today produces 25 percent of the world’s ethanol. Bank of America has estimated that annual ethanol sales in Brazil could reach 13.5 billion U.S. gallons in 2022, two-thirds greater than the 8.1 billion gallons estimated in sugar cane ethanol production in 2016.
The Mato Grosso region’s substantial corn production — both proven and potential — make corn-derived ethanol the most viable option to complement existing sugar cane ethanol production and fulfill an annual multi-billion gallon shortfall.
Additionally, the introduction of corn ethanol production to Brazil will generate dividends beyond the fuel pump and highway, according to Justin Kirchhoff, investment development manager for Summit. “Mato Grosso will also benefit from corn ethanol co-products such as high fiber and high protein feedstocks for the region’s growing beef, pork and poultry industries,” Kirchhoff said.
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