Hundreds of tonnes of Southland coal are being freighted north every day to feed the dairy monster.
Trainloads of up to 550 tonnes of thermal coal have been leaving the Takitimu Mine at Nightcaps bound for Fonterra's Clandeboye dairy plant north of Temuka, in South Canterbury.
Eastern Coal Holdings New Zealand managing director Campbell Smith said the contract between the company and Fonterra started on September 1 and supply was now in full swing.
Yesterday company management joined Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno to mark the contract's starting.
Fonterra representatives were also supposed to be at the mine yesterday but pulled out at the 11th hour because of illness.
Eastern Coal had spent more than $3 million on roads and infrastructure including a new rail loadout system, Mr Smith said.
"When Eastern purchased the mine in 2006 it was barely producing 1000 tonnes a year," he said.
"We are now targeting output in excess of 200,000 tonnes per annum." Eastern Coal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Queensland-based Eastern Corporation, has been a New Zealand coal producer since June 2005 when the company acquired the Cascade open-cut coal mine near Westport. In September 2006 it acquired the Takitimu mine.
Eastern Corporation business development manager Sam Aarons said the contract was the biggest in the South Island.
Mrs Cardno welcomed development at the mine and the decision to rail the coal, saying it was a more acceptable transport system.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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