CopRice, the animal nutrition business of Australian rice processor SunRice, will convert its closed rice mill in Coleambally into a ruminant feed mill.

Drought conditions and a depleted rice crop caused the mill to close, but demand for animal feed and drought rations create a new opportunity. According to a report, the plant has been under a “care and maintenance program” since 2015, when drought caused the company to scale back its rice processing operations.

When fully converted, the mill will produce mash and blended feed to meet growing domestic and international demand in the dairy, sheep and beef markets. In addition to more than 80,000 tons of storage, exceptional grain handling capacity, and warehousing and containerization capability, the Coleambally site also uniquely offers proximity and access to readily available cereal grains and byproducts from the Riverina region, such as wheat, barley, corn, almond hulls and cotton seed.

The Coleambally site conversion will, once operational, initially employ 10 full-time workers on an ongoing basis. Within 12 months of opening, it is anticipated that the Coleambally mill will be the largest volume contributor for the CopRice business.

In order to meet increasing customer demand for improved on-farm performance of livestock feed products, an integral part of this project will be the utilization of CopRice’s expertise and the existing Leeton mill to manufacture advanced nutrition concentrate pellets, which will be added to the mash and blend products from Coleambally.

“For over 30 years, CopRice has converted rice byproducts into world class animal nutrition,” said SunRice CEO Rob Gordon in a press release. “With the conversion of the Coleambally facility, we will now extend that expertise to other agricultural byproducts from the Riverina – a region that remains the cornerstone of our business. … The Coleambally facility will provide the platform for CopRice to become a leading Australian ruminant animal nutrition producer, as we move from a pellet-only business to offering a complete range of pellets, mash, blends and concentrates.”