AMBITIOUS FACTORY: Concept designs of the Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions factory at Maryborough's Moonaboola Industrial Estate.
AMBITIOUS FACTORY: Concept designs of the Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions factory at Maryborough's Moonaboola Industrial Estate. Blake Antrobus

Supply risk revealed as M'boro prepares for industry boom

THE Heritage City is experiencing a resurgence in its manufacturing sector as big industry players start to set up shop.

But there are fears the city's power supply won't be able to meet the rapidly growing demand.

This includes the new $60 million Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions factory, tipped to bring at least 100 manufacturing positions to the job-starved region.

With the city's electrical grid nearing capacity, senior business and political figures have put pressure on the State Government to commit to electrical upgrades to meet Maryborough's needs.

While the State Government spruiks a $49.5 billion infrastructure investment across Queensland over the next four years, concerns have been raised about the current capacity of Maryborough's electrical grid to handle major new manufacturing projects.

The Chronicle understands only one mega watt of power is currently available on the grid for new manufacturing and industrial users in town.

The capacity issue could affect the development and operation of Maryborough's munitions factory, which will require substantial power to manufacture the thousands of artillery shell casings for use by defence forces around the world.

Construction at the site is expected to begin next year.

A Rheinmetall NIOA spokesman said the company was in ongoing negotiations with the State Government in relation to various matters, including electricity for the new manufacturing plant.

The spokesman said the project currently remained on schedule.

Ergon Energy confirmed it was working with the joint venture on its energy needs.

A spokesman said Ergon had not identified "network capacity issues for the Maryborough region that would impact normal customer connections”.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said the insufficient supply of base load power could be a potential crisis for Maryborough and called on the State Government to fix it immediately.

"If the Queensland Labor Government fails to do this Labor is saying that it doesn't support industry in Maryborough, Labor doesn't support jobs in Maryborough, and Labor doesn't support the growth of new industries our region needs to create new jobs,” Mr O'Brien said.

Maryborough Labor MP Bruce Saunders said he was not aware of potential power problems in the Heritage City but was aware of negotiations between RNM and government bodies.

"All I know is the department at Ergon, the State Government and RNM are working together to move it forward,” Mr Saunders said.

"It's standard business procedures that are going on with any development, including discussions around power supply.”

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said manufacturing was a huge industry for Maryborough and told the Chronicle the State Government and Ergon were working on the electrical supply.

Other major Maryborough employers are on the verge of major expansions, including Hyne Timber, which this year turned the sod on its new glue laminated timber plant.

While a Hyne spokeswoman said there were no concerns the power supply, she said "significant increased power demand” was required for the project.

"The new Glue Laminated Timber facility currently under construction in Maryborough's Moonaboola Industrial Estate recognised the need for significant increased power demand and associated upgrades as part of the early stages of development and location analysis,” she said.

"Through engagement with key stakeholders, the necessary upgrades and required power demand to meet the plant's operations have been negotiated and implemented accordingly.”

The State Government was contacted for comment but a spokeswoman said Ergon Energy had already provided a response before print deadline.

RNM's munitions factory, first announced in October last year, will produce artillery shell casings for Australian and overseas defence forces.

When it was announced, deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the factory would ensure the country's defence personnel is bolstered.

Mr O'Brien called it the dawn of "a new era of advanced manufacturing” for the Heritage City.

Last week, company officials announced a new headquarters in the heart of the Maryborough CBD to work through the construction phase at the Moonaboola Industrial Estate, just off the Bruce Hwy.

RNM director Jackson Nioa said between 15-20 people would be working from the company's new project office on Adelaide St during construction.

"We're hoping to start construction in January next year, with about a 12 month construction timeline,” Mr Nioa said last week.

Concept designs of the factory reveal it will be about 6000sq m in size with an additional 1000sq m of office space.