Construction of Multi-Beverage Manufacturing Facility in Swanbank Well Underway

Construction of the $400 million multi-beverage manufacturing facility in Swanbank is well underway and on track for its opening in mid-2024. Once operational, the facility will provide 160 long-term jobs.

Japanese global drinks manufacturer Suntory is currently building its new facility on a 17-hectare industrial site located southeast of Ipswich after getting the green light last September 2022.

The multi-beverage manufacturing facility is expected to produce up to 20 million cases of its well-known beverages annually and it has the capacity to be scaled up when needed. Frucor Suntory manufactures and distributes a wide range of energy drinks and sparkling and other non-alcoholic beverages across Oceania.

During its construction, the project will provide 450 construction and installation jobs. Once open and operational, the development is also expected to benefit the communities of Ipswich, Redbank Plains, Springfield and Ripley Valley with job opportunities.

“Japanese companies like Suntory recognise the benefits of investing in Queensland and Queenslanders,” Queensland minister for trade and investment Cameron Dick said when he made the announcement last year.

“This new investment in the Frucor Suntory facility shows the strength of the Queensland-Japan trade and investment relationship, now sixty years strong.”

Darren Fullerton, Frucor Suntory CEO, said that the company manufactures all its products for Australia over in New Zealand and currently has run out of capacity. The new multi-beverage facility in Ipswich will allow the manufacturer to fulfil its growing retail and consumer demand, enabling it to process, package, warehouse and distribute its beverage products for its Australian customers.

“Ipswich is the perfect place for high-skill, high tech manufacturing,” Member for Bundamba Lance McCallum said.

“Our community is ideally placed with the right workforce, logistics and transport links.”

“Ipswich City Council and the Ipswich community are delighted to welcome Frucor Suntory with its new manufacturing facility to be constructed in Swanbank,” Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said.

“This project will deliver hundreds of local jobs; about 450 during the initial construction phase and another 160 long-term roles when it starts operating from 2024. 

“It shows there are significant benefits to global companies establishing their facilities in the city and being part of the local economy.”

Landfills in Ipswich Under Investigation as Residents Fight for Clean Air

Probes and inspections have been expanded at the landfills in Ipswich following the recent floods as residents continue to deal with odour issues and fight for clean air.

In a statement, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) said that it is taking action against those responsible for the stench impacting the residential communities.

DES has ordered Cleanaway, one of the operators of the landfill, to continue treating the dumpsites to reduce the odour and ensure that the chemical treatments are carefully disposed of across the water body. 

DES also stated that water sampling has been conducted at Cleanway’s facilities, which indicated low levels of contamination. 

Community Needs to See Improvement

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding acknowledged the “horrendous” smell at landfills in Ipswich, specifically in Swanbank and New Chum. Whilst she backs the DES probe, the mayor also said that this effort will mean nothing “if the community don’t see an improvement.”

“DES is responsible for investigating and responding to community concerns about odour, dust and other environmental nuisances,” the mayor said.  

“Council supports the moves that Cleanaway are making in firstly announcing publicly that they believe they have a problem and are trying to fix it – and we encourage them to communicate to the regulators and the community on this complex and worrying issue.

“They must comply with the state government laws and operate in a safe manner.”

However, a DES report published on 5 May 2022 cited that whilst Cleanway was given clearance for a 24×7 transfer operation of leachate, there have been no trucks on-site, per the members of the Ipswich Residents Against Toxic Environment. They have written the Environment Minister to bring this issue to light. 

Health Issues Affecting Residents

Some of the affected residents include Collingwood Park and Riverview. One local councillor said that the Odour Abatement Taskforce has received 13,450 complaints about odour, dust and other environmental issues since its formation in 2018.

Locals have been asking to shut down these landfills for nearly a decade. Reports cited that the recent flooding has made the stench intolerable and out of control and the quality of the air makes their eyes water. 

Some residents wake up with migraines or respiratory issues and deal with a stench that makes them vomit. The locals said the smell wafts through their backyard and into their vents and windows. 

Swanbank E Power Station’s Value Plummets to Zero

Once a highly efficient 385 megawatts gas-fired power station, Swanbank E, located 10 kilometres south of Ipswich, has devalued to zero and will continue to lose money until its retirement in 2036. 

A new report released by the Queensland Audit Office revealed that more than $1 billion in the value of gas and coal power stations across Queensland, which is operated by Stanwell, CS Energy and CleanCo, have been written down in the past year. 

Whilst net profits gained from transmission and distribution, the numbers were 26 percent lower in the latest report. 

Stanwell$720 million19 percent 
CS Energy $353 million 15 percent
CleanCo $35 million8 percent

Factors affecting the reduction in the value of these power stations were attributed to:

  • the decreasing demand for electricity due to COVID-19
  • the increasing demand for the generation of renewable sources
  • lower gas prices

As CleanCo has written off the Swanbank E power station, Stanwell and CS Energy project that their power stations will still be profitable until its scheduled retirement in five years. 

However, the Queensland Audit Office said that the forecasted revenues for these power stations will no longer cover the future cost of operations. The devaluation may push the State Government to fast-track decommission as losses accumulate but Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said that no such plans are in place.

“It’s in the best interest of Queenslanders if the state and federal governments plan for a rapid transition to clean energy,” Solar Citizens said. “They need to be upfront with the community and provide certainty for workers who will be affected by inevitable generator closures.” 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Swanbank E power station was commissioned in 2002 to help Queenslanders wean off coal-powered electricity. The cost to build and operate this facility was $300 million.