Albany plans still on track: Vicstock

24 Apr, 2014 02:00 AM
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Vicstock Grain is committed to the Albany grain terminal project....

VICSTOCK Grain says it will continue with its plans to export grain from the Albany port terminal.

Recent media speculation suggested the company, which has been inherently linked to Heilongjiang Feng Agricultural (HFA) - the Chinese company which purchased thousands of hectares of Ongerup, Mindarabin and Lake King farmland in the last few years - had reneged on its plan to export grain to China through Vicstock's 16-year lease at the Albany port.

But late last week Vicstock's chief executive director Harold Sim confirmed his company's commitment to the Albany port project by saying that site works were still underway and the port was set to operate as initially planned.

He also noted that Vicstock Grain and HFA were not inherently linked.

Vicstock Grain was a contractual overseer of HFA's farm businesses and ambitious supply chain in southern WA but it was not part of the same business.

"Vicstock Grain is committed to the Albany grain terminal project and will continue to invest and expand our business interest in Albany," Mr Sim said.

He also said recent media reports surrounding the implied demise of Vicstock's facilities had been factually incorrect and couldn't be further from the truth.

He was unclear about where the information had come from and confirmed that the supposed tearing up of contracts between Vicstock Grain and HFA was false and innacurate information.

Mr Sim also said it was imperative for the agricultural industry to understand that Vicstock Grain and HFA were two separate business entities, which included totally separate shareholder portfolios as well.

And as such Vicstock Grain ran its business based on its own independent business decisions and its own commercial interest – the two company's were not inherently linked.

Mr Sim said once the terminal was operational Vicstock wouldn't restrict its shipments to go only to China, but would look at opportunities into other destinations if it made commercial sense.

The terminal would also provide growers an alternative shipping source and add value to the current export supply chain in WA – it wasn't for exclusive use by HFA.

In early April last year Vicstock Grain secured a long-term lease with extension options for the use of Plantation Energy Australia's (PEA) disused wood pellet shipping facilities at the Albany port and made plans to ship grain from the 2013/14 harvest at HFA's Ongerup, Mindarabin and Lake King properties through the port.

At the time the company said there could be unlimited potential for growers in the region to also sell their grain direct to China (and other origins) with cost-price benefits in the future.

Vicstock is completing further site works at its ex-PEA site at Albany where 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of storage capacity was initially located upon the signing of the long-term lease.

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