The plant came online in August this year and has already produced more than 30,000 metric tonnes of high-quality whole milk powder destined for key markets including Sri Lanka and Algeria.
Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy joined local farmers and community members to officially open the new plant.
Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said the new $235 million high-efficiency dryer is one project in a $2.4 billion investment programme to accommodate milk growth and allows the Co-operative to make the most out of its lower North Island farmers’ milk.
“This new plant will help us process large volumes of milk in a way that delivers the most value to our farmers and will also help us meet the growing global demand for dairy nutrition.
“Last year, milk production in this region was up 4.3 per cent on the previous year and we expect volumes to increase in the future.”
Around 3,000 people worked over 800,000 hours to finish the project, which was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
Fonterra Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway said the commissioning of the plant was one of the Co-operative’s smoothest and most efficient.
“The team produced some of the best commissioning figures we’ve ever seen and the plant has been operating well above budgeted performance.
“The new dryer was a valuable addition to our asset base ahead of this season’s peak, providing more capacity which allows us to drive greater efficiency and value in our product mix.”
Along with the new plant, the site has added new infrastructure that allows it to manage additional milk volumes.
This includes a new wastewater treatment plant, a reverse osmosis plant that allows the site to reuse its own condensate, a new gas-fired boiler with a number of heat recovery systems and a new distribution centre that’s the size of three rugby fields.
“It’s this supporting infrastructure that is helping to reduce our environmental impact while also making the dryer one of the most efficient in the world,” said Mr Spurway.