Planting seed processor and marketer, Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD), is set to complete and commission a $90 million delinting and treatment equipment at its Wee Waa plant in time for next season’s harvest.
The final stages of the design, construction and procurement of the cottonseed delinting and treatment equipment for the “Shenstone” plant in North West NSW are now underway.
CSD is Australia’s only supplier of cotton planting seed and its Wee Waa processing and laboratory operation is one of only two modern planting seed plants in the world.
The construction project rates as Narrabri Shire’s largest ever non-mining development.
Managing director, Peter Graham, said the current plant and equipment investment was budgeted to cost up to $45 million.
“This brings the total investment in our new seed processing plant to approximately $85m to $90m,” he said.
Preliminary site work began early this year.
Upgrading activity will continue at “Shenstone” until 2020 with further upgrades to CSD’s nursery processing equipment and site workshops.
New gear for the current construction stage has been sourced from Europe and the USA, and materials from machinery and infrastructure suppliers in Australia, even locally from Wee Waa.
CSD is also a major investor in cotton breeding, research and development, having developed a long and successful partnership with CSIRO’s cotton breeding program to deliver elite varieties specifically adapted for local growing conditions.
Founded by pioneering Namoi Valley cotton growers in 1967, the company has been using much of its existing processing equipment for 30 years.
Mr Graham said while current processes had met the needs of the expanding Australian cotton industry, changed technologies and crop management practices were demanding “a much more responsive, efficient processing plant”.
The cotton industry was totally reliant on CSD to meet demand as needed.
“As one of only two new cotton planting seed processing facilities in the world, we recognise the importance of investing in innovation to ensure a robust and profitable cotton industry in Australia well into the future,” he said.
Fabrication, installation and commissioning of new processing equipment was scheduled to be completed by next May.
The project has already proven to be a significant economic booster for the Wee Waa community.
At an industry scale, the investment will help CSD deliver better yield and quality outcomes to keep Australian cotton at the premium end of global fibre markets.