U.S. firm behind first large-scale ethanol plant in Brazil

Ethanol plant is international collaboration between U.S. firm and Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril.

A U.S. firm recently broke ground on the construction of the first large-scale ethanol plant in Brazil. The $115 million plant is an international collaboration between Iowa-based Summit Agricultural Group and Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril. The production facility is being built in Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a pre-eminent agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans.

Summit chief executive officer Bruce Rastetter estimated that the plant, which will be the only dedicated corn-based 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 gal. 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-based 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 Brazil's livestock industry.

“This is a significant day for renewable fuels, Brazil and Summit Agricultural Group,” Rastetter said. “Through Summit’s expertise in sustainable agriculture, investment and renewable energy, we will further realize the enormous corn growing potential of a region that is poised to become a global leader in corn ethanol production.”

Summit’s partner in the corn ethanol project, Fiagril, is a diversified company whose operations throughout Mato Grosso and adjoining Brazilian states include biodiesel production, grain trading, crop production inputs and infrastructure development. Fiagril’s commitment to sustainable agricultural development in Mato Grosso has served as a model for other regions of Brazil for more than 25 years.

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