SunRice to reopen Deniliquin rice mill

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 4th November 2010

rice_bowl_lg.jpgRicegrowers, owner of Australian rice giant SunRice, has announced plans to reopen its NSW rice mill in Deniliquin next year.

The mill was closed in 2008 for ‘care and maintenance’ after six years of drought conditions, with the company citing a production decline from around one million tonnes to around 19,000.

SunRice Chairman Gerry Lawson said that, with a strong crop expected next year, the Board was delighted to recommission the company’s Deniliquin base.

“The Deniliquin Mill is not only SunRice’s largest and most sophisticated mill, it is one of the largest rice mills in the world,” he said.

“To see this magnificent plant in operation again and employing local people is the outcome that we’d always hoped for when we made the difficult decision to close the mill. This is a wonderful outcome, not only for our industry, but for the people of Deniliquin and the Murray region. The strong crop coupled with the mill reopening will have a positive impact on the region as a whole and bring with it significant economic flow-on effects.”

SunRice Chief Executive Officer Gary Helou said the Deniliquin Mill has been maintained by a small on-site crew since 2008. Preparation for the mill’s full reactivation will now start to enable it to receive and process paddy from April 2011.

“Deniliquin Mill will employ close to 90 skilled staff when it reopens, including millers, packing line operators, electrical and mechanical maintainers and logistics personnel, as well as associated support roles spanning safety, quality and shift leaders,” he said.

“The recruitment process will start immediately to ensure job training, accreditation and licensing can be completed in early 2011 in preparation for the first delivery of the new crop.”

SunRice recently entered into exclusive talks with food giant Ebro Foods, with the possibility that an agreement to sell SunRice to the Spanish company may be drafted by the end of the month, and shareholders to consider the offer in March.