Fonterra plans expansion at Pahiatua plant

JILL GALLOWAY
Last updated 12:00 05/12/2012

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The planned introduction of a huge, $200 million dollar milk drier at Fonterra's Pahiatua dairy plant is expected to create about 45 jobs.

It is to be modelled on Fonterra's powder drier at Darfield in Canterbury, which also cost $200 million.

Plant manager Bill Boakes said the proposed milk powder drier would get through 15 tonnes per hour, taking 2.5 million litres of milk a day.

"This new drier is an environmentally friendly design. We will take no extra water and there'll be no discharge of condensate from it."

Mr Boakes said it would recycle condensate (the water coming from milk as it dries), using that water to wash out tankers and the processing plant.

He said any water contaminated with milk, or cleaning fluid, would go into a waste recycling plant on the Pahiatua site.

But it was not yet a done deal, as it depended on consents from both Horizons Regional Council and Tararua District Council.

"We've started the discussion with staff, neighbours, the Tararua District Council, Horizons, Fish and Game and the Department of Conservation. We plan to tee up discussions with the iwi."

Mr Boakes said that before any proposal went to Fonterra's board, consents had to be in place.

Fonterra's Pahiatua plant already has two milk powder driers which combine to process 9 tonnes an hour. It employs 130 staff.

"At the moment we're running at capacity and sending milk to Whareroa [Hawera] for processing. We have a large supply of milk close, so Pahiatua is a suitable site for expansion."

Mr Boakes said he and the staff were excited at the prospect of growth. There would be the powder drier, and storage would go from 6000 square metres to 25,000sqm.

Tanker driver staff numbers were likely to stay the same.

There would be 40 to 45 jobs created, mostly in processing and storage.

Mr Boakes said about half the milk went out of the region, mainly on the milk train from Oringi, near Dannevirke.

He said if the plant got the go-ahead, it would begin processing extra milk in 2015.

Meetings were planned with Pahiatua residents and people affected by the growth.

Tararua District councillor Shirley Hull said it was great news for the region, and Pahiatua in particular.

"I am a next-door neighbour of the site. I think it's very exciting, especially as it will take environmental issues to a whole new level."

Cr Hull said she was also pleased Fonterra was consulting widely with the community before making a decision about site growth.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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