THE Northern Territory cattle industry will again have access to a meat processing facility, following a decision to re-open the mothballed Batchelor meatworks south of Darwin.
Central Agri Group’s Batchelor plant, which last killed cattle in 2003, is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation before re-opening next April, principal Peter Polovinka told the ABC today.
He said the facility already had established markets.
Central Agri Group, which owns and operates abattoirs at Trafalgar in Victoria and Cataby/Esperance in Western Australia, plans to start processing 160 to 200 cattle and buffalo a day at Batchelor after the next wet season.
The re-opening comes after the Australian Agricultural Co in May announced plans to close its $100 million Livingstone abattoir further north near Darwin. Operations finished at Livingstone in August.
Mr Polovinka told the ABC his company had learnt a lot from past failures and was confident the Batchelor abattoir would be a success.
“We are focusing on a small and niche plant made up of buffalo and cattle,” he said.
Because of the company’s network of facilities, the Batchelor plant would open with markets already established. Mr Polovinka said the processing plant would not compete directly with live export but would concentrate on cull cows and bulls, and whatever was left over from export.
“Currently, if cattle are out of specifications or don’t make it onto a ship, the only option is to truck them to meatworks at Townsville or Broome.”
The company seized the opportunity to secure some of AA Co’s experienced meatworkers when Livingstone shut in August, sending those workers to one of its plants in Western Australia until the facility at Batchelor is ready to operate early next year.