TFI TO RE-BUILD MURRAY BRIDGE PROCESSING FACILITY AFTER 2018 FIRE BY DECEMBER 2020
This article originally appeared on Beef Central on June 6th 2019
SEVENTEEN months after fire ravaged its Murray Bridge meat processing plant in South Australia, Thomas Foods International has announced plans to rebuild on a site not far from the original facility.
The project, which the company said would cost ‘some hundreds of millions of dollars’ is expected to see the first stage, for beef processing, completed by November next year.
Since the devastating Murray Bridge fire in January 2018, TFI has had beef service kills done at the O’Connor’s plant near Pakenham, VIC.Chief executive officer Darren Thomas said the new facility would be built on a greenfield site 10km from the town centre.
“Today we re-affirm the commitment we made on day-one,” Mr Thomas said in a statement.
“We plan to build the best, most advanced multi-species processing facility in Australia, if not the world. We want our facility to be world class in adapting the latest advancements in technology, efficiency, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and workplace safety.”
He said the project would be the single largest investment by TFI in its 30-year history, and on a scale not seen in the processing industry for many years.
“It’s also our long-term commitment to our community, staff, customers and livestock suppliers throughout South Australia and Australia,” Mr Thomas said.
Once fully operational, the new plant is expected to create around 2000 jobs, 400 of which would be required in the initial stages of production.
A dedicated project team led by Darren Thomas and chief operating officer David McKay will include internal and external designers, engineers and planners to drive the development.
“Today is a very exciting milestone for TFI and our local community of Murray Bridge,” Mr McKay said.
“We’ve secured the land for our site and have worked closely with a team of internationally renowned process engineers to come up with a world-class environmentally sustainable design. From the fire has come a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to build a brand new flagship facility that will service our global operations for many decades to come,” he said.
“This will be a technically advanced facility to deliver the highest standards in beef and lamb processing.”The plant and its capacity will be built in a staged approach with the beef processing facilities to be completed first. TFI has managed to spread some of its former Murray Bridge lamb processing operations across other company lamb facilities at Lobethal and Tamworth.
The final stages of the development will provide for a considerable expansion and greater footprint to that of the previous site in Murray Bridge, Mr Thomas said.
While an exact date for the start of construction is yet to be determined, the company said it was positioned for work to begin as soon as possible.
It is working closely with the relevant State Government agencies and expects initial production at the site could commence as early as November 2020.
Mr Thomas said he was enormously proud of the TFI staff who had worked tirelessly since the fire to make the re-build announcement possible.
“From Day One, we committed to rebuilding our Murray Bridge operations,” he said. “The fire was a major disruption to the business and the lives of many of our people, not just in Murray Bridge but right across our operations.
“But we’re a positive and resilient family company. Rather than lament what was lost, we’ve chosen to focus on emerging bigger, better and stronger. We’ve chosen to focus on the exciting future for our company and the community of Murray Bridge.”
“The enormous dedication and outstanding work by everyone involved in this process is overwhelming. I’m extremely grateful to all our staff who have put in so much hard work, our loyal customers and suppliers who’ve stuck with us, our insurers and the external support we’ve received across the community.
Mr Thomas acknowledged the support received from all levels of Government, State Government agencies and the personal interest taken by so many political leaders.
“This has been a truly collaborative approach to bring about an outcome with such broad community benefits,” he said.
- Beef Central has just spoken to TFI’s Darren Thomas – more comment added to this item shortly.
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