Oceania Dairy plant construction on target

The evaporator is installed at the Oceania Dairy plant. Supplied photo.
The evaporator is installed at the Oceania Dairy plant. Supplied photo.
Work on the milk factory being built near Glenavy has speeded up.

The 47-metre-high dryer tower has had its dryer and calandrias (heat exchangers) installed, a spokesman for Oceania Dairy said.

The $210 million plant is being built beside State Highway 1 just north of the Waitaki River for the Chinese company Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group. In April last year, the group bought the 38ha site and resource consents from Oceania Dairy.

''The generating bank and final boiler components have arrived in New Zealand and are being completed in Timaru prior to delivery to the Glenavy site in late March,'' the spokesman said.

The tower, with huge cranes alongside it, was the most visible sign of progress, he said. But other buildings such as offices, the services building and drystore were also well on the way.

The water treatment and refrigeration contracts within the services building had started and transformers were about to be put in. Alpine Energy was on schedule with the electricity supplies. With underground services on the site finished, internal access roads were next.

''Roading has commenced at the drystore entranceway from Cooneys Rd and the central car park, and this will continue across the site in co-ordination with access requirements of contractors completing other site works,'' the spokesman said.

Recruitment of staff was also taking place.

''We have filled 31 positions to date and have been really pleased with the level of interest in our roles,'' Oceania Dairy chief executive Aidan Johnstone said.

Forty more position were expected to be allocated in the next five months, leading up to a permanent staff of 70 when the factory was operating at full capacity.

The plant would then be capable of turning 300 million litres of milk a year into 47,000 tonnes of milk powder.

It was on target to start accepting milk in August.

- by Sally Brooker