Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) started construction of a state-of-the-art meat processing plant in Livingstone Valley, Darwin, Australia, in late-2012. The facility produces beef products, hides and other products for the US, European and Asian markets.

"The plant has the capacity to handle 220,000 cattle a year, operating in two shifts a day."

The plant has the capacity to handle 220,000 cattle a year, operating in two shifts a day. AACo invested approximately $93m in the project. The project was approved by the Northern Territory government in April 2012.

Thinc and Sunbuild, both based in Darwin, were contracted in November 2012 to provide project management for the construction.

The plant achieved full commercial operation by the end of October 2014. It was officially opened on 21 February 2015.

Benefits of the AACo meat processing plant project

The new plant processes stock from the northern part of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It supports the meat processing industry in this region, which lacks processing facilities.

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Cattle in the region were being transported more than 3,000km to various processing plants across Australia. The transportation of live cattle over such long distances affects their welfare and also contributes to carbon emissions.

Construction of the new plant has ensured the welfare of the cattle. Because the animals are processed locally, it reduces transportation costs and carbon emissions caused ransit. The plant also ensures efficient use of resources and ethical treatment of animals.

The project created approximately 320 jobs in the meat processing industry in the region. In addition, it created $126m in economic benefits for the region.

Site details of AACo meat processing plant

The site of the plant is a hay and cattle farm spread over 600ha. AACo acquired the site in May 2012 at a cost of $13.27m.

"The plant produces 28 million kilos of sellable beef in different grades."

The processing plant occupies about 4ha on the site. Waste recycling infrastructure is built on another 14ha of land. The remaining area of the site is used for irrigated feed crops with limited cattle grazing.

The site is logistically well-connected with the Port of Darwin, which is located nearby. A railway line runs along the property and the site is also located close to the Stuart Highway. The site is well-connected to transport products quickly, which reduces the environmental impact of the plant.

Design of the meat processing plant

The plant includes a main processing unit, boning unit, freezing and chilling systems, and a rendering plant for processing by-products. It also includes a hide processing unit, holding yards, workshops, refrigeration, offices, and a wastewater treatment plant.

The project also includes a community centre, which provides day care, health care and training facilities.

Cattle processing capacity

The plant is Halal-certified. The cattle are held in yards located next to the plant. They are electrically stunned in accordance with animal welfare standards.

"The plant incorporates several energy-saving features."

Hot-boning is used for processing the cattle. The plant bones and processes the carcass immediately after slaughter. It has the capacity to process 1,000 heads a day.

To ensure hygienic meat production, the boning processing room is maintained at a temperature of 8°C. Refrigeration units provide chilled storage at 2°C and frozen storage at -18°C.

Beef products produced by AACo

The plant produces 28 million kilos of sellable beef in different grades, as well as 36 million kilos of by-products.


The plant incorporates several energy-saving features, including the use of gas for thermal heating. Ventilation throughout the building is computer-controlled to ensure efficiency.

The wastewater treatment plant at the facility uses a dissolved air flotation system to remove nutrients from the wastewater using a chemical process, before sterilising it using an ultraviolet system.

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