Pro­cess­ing plant ex­pands

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Amidst a dreary econ­omy, one Toko­roa busi­ness is un­der­go­ing a $9 mil­lion ex­pan­sion set to bring more money and jobs to the district.

Blue Pa­cific Min­er­als is in­vest­ing in a new ze­o­lite pro­cess­ing plant, on track for com­ple­tion early 2015, along­side a sub­stan­tial up­grade to its quar­ry­ing equip­ment.

The Toko­roa-based com­pany op­er­ates two quar­ries, ex­tract­ing vol­canic min­er­als ze­o­lite and per­lite and pro­cess­ing both at one fa­cil­ity.

The North Plant has been op­er­at­ing in Toko­roa since 1989.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Dave Hill said pro­duc­tion grew to the point where its ex­ist­ing plant was con­strain­ing out­put and a de­ci­sion was made to build a new plant in Toko­roa to run con­cur­rently with the ex­ist­ing one.

‘‘The ob­jec­tive is to con­tinue grow­ing ag­gres­sively within the mar­kets we’ve been work­ing on with­out be­ing con­strained by ca­pac­ity.’’

The com­pany is pro­duc­ing 70,000 tonnes of ze­o­lite and 7500 tonnes of per­lite ev­ery year.

Hill said the sin­gle process fa­cil­ity couldn’t cope with de­mand, even run­ning six days a week, 18 hours each day.

‘‘Our fore­cast­ing ex­er­cise pro­vided the con­fi­dence for the de­ci­sion to build a new pro­cess­ing plant, and ramp pro­duc­tion up over the next five years,’’ Hill said.

Earth­works are now well un­der way for the new 4500 square-me­tre build­ing.

Hill said the cap­i­tal pro­gramme to­tals an in­vest­ment of $9m in­clud­ing the plant and new quar­ry­ing gear.

The new fa­cil­ity will ex­clu­sively process ze­o­lite, al­low­ing a re-con­fig­u­ra­tion of the old plant to fo­cus on per­lite. Em­ployee num­bers have al­most dou­bled since the idea to ex­pand be­came a re­al­ity, Hill said. When Blue Pa­cific Min­er­als moved its main of­fice to Toko­roa in late 2009 it em­ployed around 18 full-time staff.

Re­cruit­ment as­so­ci­ated with the up­grade has pushed this up to 34 with more spe­cial­ists an­tic­i­pated to join in the crew in the next few years, Hill said.

Ex­cit­ing ex­pan­sion: The $9mil­lion ex­pan­sion of Blue Pa­cific Min­er­als has al­ready cre­ated an­other 16 jobs for Toko­roa.

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