Fonterra is pouring concrete as the multimillion-dollar expansion of its Pahiatua plant picks up pace.
The company is building a new milk powder dryer and creating more storage in the $200 million to $250m revamp.
Reinforcing steel and other earthquake-proofing measures were in place, plant manager Bill Boakes said. He said that 500 cubic metres of concrete would be poured today, with 10 trucks pouring concrete and then travelling to Pahiatua and Dannevirke to re-fill.
The site employs about 130 people, with the rebuild meaning a further 50 jobs will be created, Boakes said.
Fonterra wants to increase milk powder production with a third dryer.
The Pahiatua plant will take all the milk produced on the eastern side of the island - from Hawke's Bay to Wellington.
The train that now carts milk to Fonterra's Hawera site will not be needed once the new powder plant is built.
Fonterra project manager Scott Rowden said it was a major construction, with an entire village for the work force on-site.
Rowden said work on the dryer had started as it was the longest part of the build.
Land use and discharge permits from Horizons Regional Council and Tararua District Council were given for the expansion.
The plant site, called the Mangamutu Dairy Factory - just west of Pahiatua - has a railway line and natural gas line within it.
The operation will expand milk powder processing from the two dryers which currently take a total of about 1.4 million litres to almost treble that, with the new milk dryer capable of processing a further 2.5 million litres.
Most people were in favour of the expansion, saying it would bring much needed economic growth to the region.
Fonterra is also creating a storage area and new railway siding to load dairy product.
Boakes said the expanded plant was expected to be ready for commissioning in early August 2015.
- Manawatu Standard