Two-year plan with set-up of pig plant
REDEVELOPMENT of the defunct Killarney Abattoir as a pig processing plant is still in the planning stage but could be at least two years away.
As reported around this time last year, the Northern Cooperative Meat Company at Casino in the Northern Rivers entered into a memorandum of understanding with Elbow Valley-based farming identity Chris Shaw of Canning Downs South feedlot.
Mr Shaw recently confirmed to the Daily News he had withdrawn from the project due to conflict over timeframes.
Northern Cooperative Meat Company CEO Simon Stahl told the Daily News this week the co-operative was "proceeding with due diligence" in relation to the re-opening of the Killarney plant but would not be drawn on further details.
It is unclear what the ownership status of the abattoir would be if the pig plan proceeds.
But Mr Shaw is currently listed in property records as the owner of the Border Rd site, which he bought for $167,200 from receivers acting for former operator Dudley Leitch.
That sale went through in August 2012 after the abattoir had been mostly stripped of equipment, with Mr Leitch having paid $5.1 million in 2008 for it when he bought it from the Hancock family.
The Northern Cooperative Meat Company currently operates a pig plant at Booyong near Casino.
In a statement to the Daily News last February, Mr Stahl confirmed they had "entered into a memorandum of understanding with Warwick primary producer Canning Downs South to investigate the feasibility of developing a new pig abattoir at Killarney".
Mr Stahl said at the time that the co-operative had been monitoring the Killarney site "for some time" and approached Mr Shaw when it became aware he was buying it and had a proposal to build a new pig abattoir.
"A new abattoir at Killarney has the potential to impact on our existing operations at Booyong," Mr Stahl said at the time.
He also said at that time a decision about whether or not to proceed would be made by the end of 2013 but no further statement was released by the end of last year.
Pig industry sources who declined to be identified have said they believe the co-operative is still serious about the new pig plant but it could be two years before it is up and running.
The Booyong plant employs about 60 workers and currently sources a large proportion of its pigs from producers in southern Queensland.
A pig abattoir at Killarney would represent a huge saving in transport costs.
Receivers Grant Thornton, appointed after the Leitch Pastoral Trust collapsed, have said they expect the winding-up process to be formally ended this month, but it remains unlikely that local family firms will ever see any of the millions they are owed by the failed farming magnate.
Mr Leitch is now working as a consultant in the mining industry, where he made his original fortune.