New details and conceptual images of the Australian Agricultural company’s proposed export meat processing and packing plant south of Darwin have been released as part of the project’s public environmental report.
The company is proposing to build a hot boning plant, in which the carcase is boned and processed immediately after slaughter, to produce boxed manufacturing beef, hides and rendered products for export to Asia, Europe and the US.
While still in conceptual stage, the designs cater for a peak processing capacity of 1000 head per day in two shifts, involving the employment of 270 people. Cattle will be sourced from the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
The report says the chosen 601 hectare site at Livingstone 50km south of Darwin was selected for various reasons including the area of land available, its proximity to the Stuart Highway, East Arm Ports, a workforce, housing and water, electricity and gas services, and distance from sensitive land uses.
The site will incorporate cattle raising activities and hay production, with irrigated pasture paddocks developed to recycle treated water from the plant operations.
Animal welfare measures include cattle handling facilities and a race and stun box designed according to Temple Grandin standards and the use of electric stunning prior to slaughter. The design aims to minimise the time between stunning and slaughter to about three seconds.
The plant will meet Australian standards for halal meat processing. AA Co states in the proposal that ritual slaughter without stunning, which requires AQIS approval, will not be included in the plant’s operations.
Operations will taper off during the wet season in November to December before stopping completely in January, when the plant will close for a month for servicing of all machinery and equipment.
AA Co managing director David Farley has said that by reducing the need for long-distance transport of northern cattle the project would ensure improved carbon, welfare and productivity outcomes.
Hides will be the only part of the carcase that will leave the site in partially treated condition. All other parts of the carcase will leave the site as product ready for use.
The report states that efforts to minimise waste in the integrated meat processing and rendering operations is central to the project's carbon management strategy.
It notes that disposing of unwanted parts of the carcase by burial, incineration or decomposition in landfill would result in the release CO2 and methane into the environment. Instead all waste will be given a commercial value and treated as a co-product rather than waste. Additionally nutrients in processing effluent will be recovered and applied to pastures, while animal waste will be applied to maintain and improve soil condition on and off the site, according to the proposal.
The greatest period of traffic in and out of the site will occur between the shift-changeover between 2 and 3pm each day. It is estimated that 190 vehicle trips will be generated during this peak, while the heavy vehicle generation peak is identified as 3pm-5pm, when a total of 30 cars and 22 heavy vehicles is estimated.
The heavy vehicle trip generation peak period is identified as 3pm to 5pm when a total of 30 cars and 22 heavy vehicles is estimated. A traffic Impact Study suggested the existing road has spare capacity to safely accommodate the expected increases in traffic, however a realignment of road access and rail crossing will be required to ensure safety at the intersection.
AAco has announced the plant will cost $80-$85m, but would require $35m of Government funding support to proceed.
More details in the full reports can be viewed by clicking here