Milk plant highlights quake recovery
Fri, 31 Aug 2012 10:56a.m.
By Pam Graham
The epicentre of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck Canterbury on September 4, 2010 has been deemed the perfect spot for a milk factory with the largest dryer in the world.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee on Friday highlighted a giant milk processing plant being built by dairy co-operative Fonterra as an example of the recovery under way in Canterbury, a region that has experienced more than 10,000 earthquakes and aftershocks in the last two years.
"Money, people and ideas are pouring in. But we need to develop an economy that is built on a fundamentally strong economic base," Mr Brownlee said.
Canterbury has such a base.
The conversion of land to dairying has made it New Zealand's fastest growing dairying region, with an annual growth rate of five percent to six percent.
The new Fonterra plant will open at the epicentre of the September 4 quake in Darfield at the end of this year, Mr Brownlee says.
The plant is Fonterra's first completely new site in 14 years.
The first bags of milk powder were produced from the $200 million first stage of the project in August. Another $300m is being invested in a second stage.
At peak capacity, Darfield Drier One will convert about 2.2 million litres of milk a day into whole milk powder.
Stage two includes an extension of the site's dry store as well as the commissioning of a second milk drier, which will triple the site's capacity.
The plant on a 650-hectares, 3.5 kilometres from Darfield, will generate $780m of milk-powder revenue a year and provide jobs for 160 to 170 staff, including tanker drivers.
More than 1500 people have been involved in construction of the first drier.
It is a massive investment even for the dairy giant.
"This is the single biggest investment in the life of the industry," Fonterra's New Zealand operations director, Brent Taylor has said.
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