SunRice’s mothballed Coleambally rice processing mill in southern NSW is to be converted into a major livestock feed manufacturing plant by its CopRice division.
While drought conditions and a much-reduced rice crop have kept the mill closed, soaring demand for stock feed supplements and drought rations have prompted SunRice to re-think how best to make use of the site.
CopRice confirmed it would rebuild the plant during the coming nine months to become one of Australia’s largest ruminant nutrition milling facilities.
It will be capable of producing mash and blended stockfeed to meet domestic and international demand in the dairy, sheep and beef markets.
The Coleambally facility will provide the platform for CopRice to become a leading Australian ruminant animal nutrition producer, as we move from a pellet-only business to offering a complete range
In addition to 80,000-plus tonnes of storage and grain handling capacity, and excellent warehousing and container packing capabilities, the Coleambally mill site is conveniently close to cereal crop supplies and by-products from the Riverina region.
Wheat, barley, corn, rice, almond hulls and cottonseed are just some of the ingredients readily available.
The mill was placed in a care and maintenance program in early 2015 after reduced water availability for rice crops forced SunRice to start scaling back processing operations.
It has only operated at full capacity for two seasons since the early 2000s.
Once operating as a feed mill it will initially employ 10 full time staff on an ongoing basis.
It is expected to become the largest volume contributor for the CopRice business, which has other mills at nearby Leeton and Tongala and Cobden in Victoria.
To meet increasing customer demand for improved on-farm performance of stockfeed products, SunRice managing director, Rob Gordon, said an integral part of the new project would be utilising expertise and the existing Leeton mill to manufacture advanced nutrition concentrate pellets.
These would be added to the mash and blend products from Coleambally.
“The Coleambally facility will provide the platform for CopRice to become a leading Australian ruminant animal nutrition producer, as we move from a pellet-only business to offering a complete range of pellets, mash, blends and concentrates,” he said.
Mr Gordon said CopRice had been converting rice by-products into world class animal nutrition products for more than 30 years.
“The Coleambally facility will enable us to extend that expertise to other agricultural by-products from the Riverina," he said.
"The region remains the cornerstone of our business.
“We are excited to be continuing our investment in Coleambally and about the opportunities this facility will provide for local employment and businesses."
Meanwhile, as the drought continues to shrink rice crop prospects in NSW, the scale-back of milling activity at SunRice's big Deniliquin site has seen the 24-hour running time at its Mill Two cut to five days a week, and Mill One will reduced to 16 hours, five days a week before its operations grind to a halt in April.
The Leeton mill will cut back production to five days a week in April.
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