Ridley’s Mooroopna mill to close

By Country News

Mooroopna's Ridley Agriproducts will close with the loss of 17 jobs as operations move to a new feed mill near Bendigo, the company has announced.

The Mooroopna operation, on the site of the town's historic flour mill in McLennan St, is due to cease production during the next six to nine months as Ridley consolidates its central and northern Victorian operations at its new state-of-the art facility at Wellsford, near Bendigo.

Ridley chief executive Quinton Hildebrand said the company was engaging with Mooroopna employees to consider redeployment options within the broader Ridley business, and would be providing employees with career transition programs.

Mr Hildebrand said the decision to close the Mooroopna operation was necessary for the company's continuing commercial success.

“Having invested just over $47 million in the new Wellsford facility, it is important that we take full commercial advantage of its superior efficiency and product quality.

"Unfortunately that means the closure of our Mooroopna feed mill, and we will be working closely with our customers over the coming months to ensure they benefit from a seamless transition to the Wellsford supply arrangements,'' Mr Hildebrand said.

He said the new feed mill had a 350 000 tonne annual capacity which could absorb the capacities of the old Bendigo feed mill and the existing Mooroopna feed mill as well as hold an additional 70 000 tonnes of feed production. 

He said once the transition had been successfully concluded, the Mooroopna site would be closed, made safe, and prepared for divestment.

The old flour mill on McLennan St was built in 1872 by Elias Ralph who ran the Mooroopna punt. The mill was operated for many years by the McLennan family until it was converted for animal feed products in the 1970s. Ridley purchased the facility in 1990.

The silos were built in 1944 at a cost of £20,000.

Mooroopna Historical Society secretary Barry Campbell said the closure was another blow to the community.

"We've lost the Ardmona cannery, the hospital and now the mill. It's a sad loss to the town," he said.

"Ridley has been a good employer over the years. The place is really busy, trucks are coming and going all the time.''