June 10, 2016
The commissioning of Proteco’s new $3.2 million specialist edible oil refinery in Kingaroy began this week after two years of construction and three years of planning.
Proteco Gold owner Josh Gadischke was hoping for the first refined oil to be processed on Wednesday night.
He will formally take control of the plant next week after the specialists commissioning the installation sign off and hand it over to Proteco.
The refinery towers above the old butter factory site, with five levels of machinery.
It has been built on the site of the old iceworks.
The old Kingaroy Cheese factory behind it has been removed for safety reasons. This area will be developed as a tanker unloading area, because Proteco plans to handle contract refining as well as processing its own cold-pressed products.
The new refinery has been built to handle peanut, macadamia and almond oil and is the only one of its type in Queensland.
“The refinery has unique technology for these types of tree nut oils,” Josh said.
The gas-fired steam boiler heats the oils to 240 degrees C.
The height of the building is essential for the vaccuum equipment, which is also a vital part of the refining process.
The end product is a very pale oil with no odour, which is what the market demands.
“There is also a high level of automation which gives us good control over product quality. It is also more efficient, enabling us to compete with overseas manufacturers,” Josh said.
Despite the automation, the refinery has added six new jobs to Proteco’s payroll.
Josh said 70 per cent of the macadamia and almond oil would be exported to Europe and Asia, while the peanut oil will also be available in Australian supermarkets.
There is a strong demand for peanut oil in cooking – especially deep frying – while the two tree nut oils are used in cosmetics.
Exported oil will leave the plant in 24,000 litre flexy tanks (bladders inside a shipping container).
Proteco has erected eight new storage tanks near the refinery: five to store crude (unrefined) oils and three for refined oils.
A total of one million litres of oil can now be stored on site, but Josh has plans for another four storage tanks to be erected behind these.
None of these tanks were at Proteco less than two years ago, an indication how the demand for the company’s product has increased in both the domestic and export markets during this time.
The refinery project has also provided a mini-boom for local businesses.
Although the specialist refinery equipment was made to order in India, all the piping and pressure vessels were manufactured in the South Burnett by Nanango-based G3 Engineering.
“G3 has had up to 10 local tradespeople on site since Christmas,” Josh said.
Proteco has also used local electricians, plumbers, gasfitters and sheet metal workers.
“We have had an average of 15-20 contractors for the last six months,” he said.
The cost of the project increased by almost $1 million from the original plans, but Josh said that most of this was due to the fact that during the two years of building, the business continued to expand.
The refinery complements Proteco’s existing cold press oil business which manufactures and bottles almond, avocado, olive, apricot kernel, macadamia, peanut, pumpkin seed, sunflower, walnut, safflower, sesame, flaxseed and cod liver oils.
This crushing plant is now running 24 hours, Monday to Friday, and will be the next part of the Proteco factory complex to be upgraded.
Josh said new equipment to double the capacity of the plant had arrived and was awaiting installation.