REBUILD IN PROGRESS: Sunpork chief executive Robert van Barneveld stands where the new boning room is being constructed.
REBUILD IN PROGRESS: Sunpork chief executive Robert van Barneveld stands where the new boning room is being constructed. Katherine Morris

Construction moves quickly at Swickers

SWICKERS Bacon Factory is continuing to rebuild after fire tore through the pig abattoir last year.

Sunpork chief executive Robert van Barneveld said the company aimed to have work finished on new permanent chillers and a temporary boning room by May this year.

The goal to get the new permanent boning room finished is August this year.

This will bring workers back to Kingaroy from Ipswich sooner than what originally was projected to be 18 months.

"Our priority is to get staff back as soon as possible," Drvan Barneveld said.

The temporary boning room and chill space should be finished at the same time.

Once the new permanent boning room is finished, a tunnel will be built to connect it to the new chillers.

"That will allow us to bring boning back as soon as we can," he said.

Dr van Barneveld said the permanent boning room needed to be a facility of high quality to last the next 30 years.

"The temporary boning room is a lot less efficient, it wouldn't be suitable long term," he said.

Since the fire on November 6, about 120 Swickers workers have been working at a facility in Ipswich at Wulkuraka.

While there is accommodation on site, buses have also been coming to and from Ipswich to Kingaroy daily.

"I think they are (workers) excited to come back, they've done a tremendous job but it's a strain on them and their families," he said.

"It is our priority to get workers home as soon as possible."

Dr van Barneveld confirmed the fire was started by an electrical fault above the boning room.

The fire destroyed the boning room, meat chillers and export distribution centre.

If everything goes to plan the plant will be fully operational again by August.

The processing floor, kill floor, value-add facilities, offices, new warehouse chiller and dry goods store were not affected by the fire.

The fire has been described as the most significant structural fire in Kingaroy history.

The factory employs about 580 people.

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