Australian environmental services company Hydroflux is providing sustainable water solutions and services to Pacific nations.
Paul Cobbin was nine years old when he joined his father on a trip to Mana Island to see the construction of a sewage treatment plant. His father was the commissioning engineer and the owner of the company responsible for building the plant.
That was 1976. Today, Cobbin is still involved in water treatment projects in the Pacific. As CEO of Hydroflux Pacific, he is responsible for a sustainability-driven organisation delivering unrivalled scientific and technology solutions. Hydroflux Pacific focuses on water, wastewater, renewable energy, climate resilience and environmental protection of Pacific nations.
Hydroflux Pacific is Hydroflux Group’s Pacific region subsidiary. It has completed several large-scale projects in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG). They include decentralised solutions for townships in PNG such as the recent upgrade of one of Cobbin’s long-term legacy sites at Tabubil township. The treatment plant was installed in 1981 and upgraded in 2021 in the Western Province. Other projects include the Wabag provincial hospital treatment plant in Enga province, and two treatment plants at Fiji’s Likuliku Lagoon Resort and Malolo Island Resort.
‘The Pacific region is in urgent need of climate-resilient infrastructure,’ says Cobbin. ‘Hydroflux has a long history in the region, and we are invested in its future. We want to help ensure Pacific nations have access to safe, sustainable water infrastructure for generations to come.’
The heritage of the Hydroflux Group has been active in the Pacific since its inception. It has worked on projects in Fiji and PNG since 1962, installing over 50 sewage treatment plants in PNG alone. Today, around 12% of Hydroflux Group’s revenue comes from exports to Fiji, New Zealand and PNG. It exports to other nations in the region when the opportunity arises.
Hydroflux Pacific set up its regional head office in Fiji in 2017. The company provides water and wastewater treatment solutions to utilities, resorts, mines, remote communities and trade waste clients across 21 Pacific nations. It is aiming to grow revenue by 20% year-on-year over the next five years.
Fiji is a major market for Hydroflux Pacific, says Cobbin.
‘The Fijian Government is genuinely intent on improving its water stewardship,’ he says. ‘It’s opened up opportunities for us to provide consulting and technical services, which are centred on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.’
Some of the company’s most notable projects in Fiji include the two-megalitre per day trade waste treatment facility for Crest Chickens near Suva.
Most recently, Hydroflux Pacific was awarded the contract to design and build a wastewater treatment system for a sustainable development on Nawi Island. Located in Savusavu Bay, Nawi Island will host freehold residences, a superyacht marina and a private yacht club.
Hydroflux Pacific will deploy its Sustainable Infrastructure Program and Roadtrain® treatment plants for the project. The carbon-neutral plants were made in Fiji using as much Fijian materials as possible. They were installed in May 2023. The company is now providing training, chemicals, spare parts and ongoing support to ensure the plants operate at their optimum. This will protect the natural beauty of Savusavu Bay for future generations.
Hydroflux is receiving support from Austrade to build its business in the Pacific.
‘Our next phase of growth is in the donor-funded space,’ says Cobbin. ‘We have no knowledge or contacts in that area. Networking has been critical – and Austrade has introduced us to many in-country connections.
‘Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner Adrian Weeks has been a great personal mentor and guide during the development of our public sector/donor-funded growth.’
Cobbin adds that Austrade’s long-term market insights and monthly Pacific News email updates provide ‘a great pulse on the market’. The updates include tenders and contract opportunities from across the region.
‘Austrade is our safe zone in a sometimes risky region,’ says Cobbin. ‘From natural risks to financial and geopolitical concerns, Austrade has been there as a sounding board and sanity checker.
‘The kindred relationship offered through the in-country offices in PNG and Fiji is the real value of Austrade in the Pacific. The most important thing is that this “mateship” is also extended to in-country business development staff. This mateship helps build morale and respect because “your country” is there for you and your corporate kin.’
Hydroflux Pacific’s aim to help improve the wellbeing of communities across the Pacific will drive its expansion plans.
‘A sustainable and resilient water sector is at the core of what Hydroflux Pacific stands for,’ says Cobbin. ‘We will look for ways to improve water management and offer whole-of-life support to ensure the long-term sustainability of the region.
‘We want to be known as the leader of sustainable and resilient water infrastructure in the Pacific region.’
The Developing Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure in the Blue Pacific Conference will be held in Brisbane on 25–27 September 2023. It will be one of the biggest infrastructure conferences ever held involving all the Pacific Island countries, their governments and private sectors. Austrade will host a stand at the event. Interested parties can meet with Austrade to discuss aspects of doing business across the Pacific.
Visit the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council website to find out more and register for the conference.