Casino meatworks to get $30 million freezer plant

THE largest capital upgrade project in more than a decade at the Casino abattoir has the potential to inject up to $15 million directly into the local economy.

Local contractors are encouraged to apply for 17 tenders for the construction of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company's planned $30 million cold storage facility.

The new facility will consist of cold and freezer rooms alongside storage, packing and dispatch areas, a new access road and loading docks.

Individual tenders on offer include construction works such as earthmoving, concreting, metalwork, hydraulics, joinery, landscaping, masonry, tiling and painting.

Local and regional companies close to the site will be given first priority to tender for the works.

The deadline for tender applications is August 8.

Northern Co-operative Meat Company chief executive Simon Stahl said the project would for the first time enable the abattoir to freeze all of its product on-site.

The majority of the meat processed at the abattoir is frozen, so this capability would bring in valuable efficiencies.

Another feature was the new facility's freezer sorting system - called an Automated Storage and Retrieval System - which would be the first of its kind in Australia.

Planning for the project commenced about 18 months ago with Brisbane-based engineering firm Wiley and Co commissioned to design and manage the construction of the facility.

Mr Stahl said it was expected that the project would create up to 100 additional jobs during the construction phase.

NCMC chairman John Seccombe estimated that while half of the cost of the project involved specialised equipment and design, much of the general construction phase could potentially be handled by local contractors.

Mr Seccombe said building a brand new cold storage facility had been on the company's radar for several years.

"Recently we've been able to build the retained earnings to be able to afford the project," he said.

"It's a very significant step for us and will bring in efficiencies that will keep us competitive and viable into the future.

"Underpinning all this is protection of the jobs at the plant.

"We're pleased that we are able in some way support the local economy as well," he added.

Local businesses can apply via http://www.gateway.icn.org.au or contact Ken Raymond from ICN on 0402 294 663.



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