Processing plant expands
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.