AACO's new meat processing facility at Darwin is on track to start operations in September.
Company chairman Donald McGauchie briefed media on the project during today's Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) conference in the NT capital.
Joined by his newly installed managing director Jason Strong and the company's northern beef processing general manager Stewart Cruden, Mr McGauchie said the plant had come at a cost of more than $90 million.
Key suppliers and beef producers were yesterday taken on a tour of the plant at Livingstone, a 45-minute drive south of the NT capital.
"We strongly believe that in conjunction with the live export trade this facility will help to improve the overall performance of the Northern Territory beef industry," Mr McGauchie said.
"We see enormous potential to expand cattle output throughout the Territory and AACo is going to be a very important part of that."
Mr McGauchie said AACo was confident of securing cattle throughput to keep the plant viable, despite planning to launch the facility on the cusp of the NT wet season, when moving cattle presents a logistical challenge.
He said throughput numbers would start at about 300 head a day before steadily increasing. The abattoir is expected to be able to handle up to 225,000 head of cattle a year.
APA Group, Australia’s largest natural gas infrastructure business, today announced an arrangement for delivery of natural gas to the Darwin meat processing facility, starting in mid-2014.
Under the agreement, gas sourced from the Amadeus Basin near Alice Springs will be transported to the AACo facility via APA’s existing Amadeus gas pipeline and a new 2.8-kilometre lateral at Noonamah. The lateral and the necessary gas receiving infrastructure at the facility will be constructed, owned and operated by Northern Australia Beef Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AACo.
The AACo processing facility will use gas for cogeneration – an energy efficient means of generating both electricity and thermal heating for meat processing.
More in next week's Queensland Country Life.