Sunday, July 3, 2022

Boost to local economy

Fonterra’s plan to build a new milk dryer at its Pahiatua dairy plant, pictured, is expected to create another 45 permanent jobs and 400-500 temporary positions while it’s under construction.

With an estimated cost of $200-$250 million, the dryer will be modelled on Fonterra’s powder dryer at Darfield in Canterbury and will have the ability to produce up to 85,000 tonnes of milk powder a year. That will more than double the site’s production from its current 55t/year of milk powder.

It has several benefits, not least its potential to re-use condensate, the water extracted from milk as it dries.  This will be used to wash out tankers and the processing plant, so there will be no discharge of condensate into rivers or streams. Any water contaminated with milk or cleaning fluid will go into a waste recycling plant on the site.

Pahiatua has two dryers that produce 9t milk powder/hour and has been running at capacity, processing 1.4m litres/day.

For the past 12 years about 1.6m litres of milk has had to be moved by train each day from the factory to other sites, such as Whareroa in southern Taranaki.

Fonterra is yet to receive consent from the Tararua District Council and Horizons Regional Council for the expansion.

The site employs 130 staff but following the expansion will employ 175 people.

Tararua Mayor Rolly Ellis said the council was thrilled Fonterra had decided to expand its plant and believed this would help the local economy enormously.

“This expansion shows Fonterra’s faith in the region and our local dairy farmers and it can be seen as a long-term thing. If they are spending more than $200m it’s not going to cease – it’s definitely long term and will have long-term benefits.

“It means more employment opportunities and there will be more money staying in the region.”

If the new plant gets the go ahead it will begin processing extra milk in 2015.

Fonterra director NZ operations Brent Taylor said Pahiatua’s proximity to good infrastructure, such as a nearby port and rail lines, made it a good option for expansion plans.

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