Coal hard facts on future for Manildra without mill

MSM Milling director Bob Mac Smith has rejected suggestions there could be an alternative to a proposed coal-fired steam boiler to secure the future of the Manildra canola mill.

Mr Mac Smith addressed a fiery community meeting on Tuesday night attended by about 200 people which is about one third of the population of Manildra.

The meeting went for two hours where MSM Milling director Bob Mac Smith was given an opportunity to address a lengthy list of questions put to the company.

Residents chiefly focused on safety concerns surrounding the project to be built in Derowie Street, such as explosion and fire risks as well as health risks like as asthma. 

Mr Mac Smith said Manildra residents had a right to demand answers and he gave them as best he could but ultimately it would come down to the use of coal power or the company may have to reassess its productivity. 

“I wouldn’t want to contemplate the long-term impacts of not getting the go-ahead, especially when in short-term memory you can recall what has happened to Simplot and Electrolux.

“The cost of butane and propane which we use now continues to rise.”

He said between MSM Milling and the Manildra Flour Mill, which would also benefit from the coal-fuel burner, 303 jobs would be made secure if MSM Milling was given the go-ahead to construct the $500,000 burner. 

“We had three technical experts from Sydney and probably we need to put some of those answers into layman’s terms but when it comes to safety concerns we’ve been operating three boilers for about seven years without an incident,” he said. 

Manildra residents formed a committee, designed to represent their concerns, when they heard about the development in December and committee spokesperson David Mackay said he was impressed by Mr Mac Smith’s presentation but he did not think residents had been swayed. 

“We’re not totally convinced the information is not exactly what he wants us to believe,” Mr Mackay said. 

A claim Mr Mac Smith rejected and said he would always endeavour to be open and honest with the community and understood “100 per cent” why they were concerned. 

Cabonne councillor Marlene Nash said there could be no negotiation when it came to the use of coal power and residents should instead start lobbying the state and federal governments to get natural gas hooked up to Manildra. 

Mr Mac Smith said the reality is a natural gas pipeline to Manildra would be prohibitively expensive and given the size of the market in Manildra, a bid to secure natural gas would be unlikely to succeed. 

The proposal is before the NSW Environment Protection Authority and it must approve the project before it can go before Cabonne Council. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Mill's steam burner bid hauled over the coals 

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