Thursday, September 22, 2011

AAco Food Processing Facility proposal moves to next stage

Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AAco) today announced it is moving to the next stage of proving the potential to build a state-of-the art food processing facility at Livingstone Valley 50km south of Darwin.

The proposed facility would create around 230 jobs during construction and 270 ongoing jobs, with a capacity to process up to 1,000 cattle per day for export to markets in the US, Europe and Asia.

Producing manufactured boxed beef, hides and rendered products, the facility would become one of the largest employers in Darwin’s rural area and generate new industries in the Top End.

Community consultation has begun today and approval applications are being prepared for submission to the Northern Territory Government by the end of the month. A final board decision to proceed is contingent on a number of factors including planning approvals, Government support, carbon farming initiatives and project viability.

AAco is seeking Australian and Northern Territory Government support in the form of upgrades to public infrastructure which would both facilitate this project and also be available to broader industry and the community.

Subject to government approvals and government infrastructure funding being granted, the Board will be in a position to consider the appropriate capital structure and to ultimately consider project endorsement. Construction could commence in early 2012 and commissioning by the end of next year.

“A project of this size and scope means upgrades to or new infrastructure such as roads, transport facilities, essential utilities and community services,” AAco Northern Territory General Manager, Northern Australian Beef, Stewart Cruden said.

“AAco has calculated a need for 134 new refrigerated container points at the Port of Darwin, new railway sidings, improved rail crossings and upgrades to electricity, water, gas and telecommunications access.

“There is a need for new local community facilities including health, child care and training services.

“We are looking to further discussions on how the public infrastructure can be provided as we work through our due diligence process.”

Mr Cruden said the company’s intention was to create an alternate market for AAco and all Northern Australian cattle producers.

“The only markets for cattle at present are via live export or transport to southern processing facilities. Both mean long journeys for cattle and result in significant transport costs and carcase weight loss,” Mr Cruden said.

“While this facility will not completely replace these options, it will open up new opportunities and markets for cattle producers.”

As a state-of-the-art facility, the project will employ the latest in processing, compliance, traceability, data capture, animal welfare and environmental technologies, including a commitment to a low carbon footprint and to recycle virtually all waste on site.

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