CONSTRUCTION of Thomas Foods International’s new Murray Bridge beef and sheepmeat abattoir in South Australia is expected to get underway in the second half of this year, after planning approval for the project was granted this week.
The Rural City of Murray Bridge Council Assessment Panel on Friday granted planning approval for the state-of-the-art plant, which is to be built on a greenfield site 10km outside of the town centre.
The new plant will replace the original facility destroyed by fire in January 2018. It will be located 8km from the current site and is close to the company’s existing wastewater treatment ponds.
The plant build will be undertaken in stages, with stage one being the beef processing facilities.
“We expect work on the build to commence in the second half of this year,” Thomas Foods International Chief Executive Darren Thomas said.
While production will gradually scale-up after the new plant starts operations, beef capacity will increase from 1200 head per day in the old facility to around 1400 (single daily shift basis). When the sheepmeat stage is completed, sheep and lamb capacity is expected to grow from 11,000/day to 14,000/day.
Mr Thomas said the planning approval represented another key milestone for the family company’s long-term investment at Murray Bridge.
“We continue to progress our plans for what will be a world-class multi species processing facility. Our project team is currently evaluating tenders received for the construction of the new plant and we expect to make a decision on awarding the contract in due course,” he said.
“We’re very excited about the new Murray Bridge plant and the range of benefits it will bring to the local community and farmers as well as TFI.”
Mr Thomas also welcomed the Rural City of Murray Bridge council’s awarding of a construction contract for a 2.2km link road between Mannum Road and the development site. Works on the Federal and State Government-funded road infrastructure is anticipated to commence soon.
The council said it planning approval for the new TFI meat-processing facility would allow the company to continue with its detailed designs and, following the issuing of building and development approvals, and all other necessary approvals, construction will be able to commence.
The council said Downer EDI Pty Ltd, in conjunction with a local Murray Bridge Company Spry Civil Construction, had been awarded the construction contract for the road project and site works are anticipated to commence within the coming days with works to be completed in December 2020.
The project will include protected acceleration and deceleration lanes to facilitate safe passage for turning and a new intersection with lighting on Mannum Road. The Federal and State Governments have committed $14 million to the road project to provide access to the new site.
Local member for Hammond Adrian Pederick said the project was a great example of all three levels of government and industry working together to achieve a fantastic outcome for the state.
“The awarding of the road construction tender is an important step in securing meat processing here in South Australia,” he said. “This multi-million investment in the Murraylands has helped cement 2000 local jobs along with 4500 indirect jobs.”
Murray Bridge mayor Brenton Lewis said building the infrastructure was an important step in supporting the retention of a significant employer and industry for the region.
“Thomas Foods International is one of our largest employers and they are investing several hundred million dollars in a new state of the art processing facility in Murray Bridge, that will employ about 2000 people once it’s fully operational.”
“TFI has shown great loyalty to our community and an unwavering commitment to re-establishing operations in our rural city.”
Council chief executive officer Michael Sedgman said the infrastructure project design was developed in partnership between council and the Department of Planning Transport & Infrastructure (DPTI) and a funding agreement was signed to provide council with the construction budget, to project manage and deliver the road project.