Rice mill out of mothballs

SUNRICE is again looking for more staff, this time to work at its Coleambally rice mill in New South Wales.

The mill will come out of mothballs by November to boost the processing and marketing company's export capacity.

In the wake of a big 963,000 tonne rice harvest in south western NSW and strong financial results by the listed farmer-owned company, SunRice will invest $2.3 million to reinstate the mill to help process additional tonnages received.

It will review ongoing operations each year based on future crop outlooks and business needs.

Company chairman Gerry Lawson said the Coleambally mill would create 34 new jobs.

SunRice had already employed more than 200 in the ricegrowing region in the past year and upgraded other storage sites, which saw a big downturn in activity during the drought when harvest tonnages dropped from an industry average of one million tonnes a year to just 19,000t in 2008.

Early last year SunRice reopened its big Deniliquin rice mill to cope with the first of two consecutive season of full rice production in the Riverina.

Coleambally mill was also opened briefly to help handle last year's big crop but has otherwise remained under a care and maintenance program.

The State government is also instigating new road limit load approvals so SunRice can maximise use of the Coleambally to Tocumwal rail terminal road leg to improve rice movements for export.

"I am proud one of our key suppliers, Deniliquin Freighters, was involved with the development of this innovative transport solution which will see fewer trucks on the road," Mr Lawson said.

"This is a sound decision for SunRice, our shareholders and growers and of course a wonderful outcome for the people of Coleambally.

"There will be marked community benefits - the creation of local jobs, a boost to local businesses and an optimistic outlook for the entire area following what has been a difficult number of years for the growing region."

The past year's payroll growth and infrastructure spending, combined with dividend and paddy payments, had injected approximately $300 million into local Riverina communities.