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Big Plans for Plant

A North Queensland industrial chemical producer has diversified and expanded to manufacture an essential high-tech water treatment product which will be the first of its kind in Queensland.

Formed in 2015 to purchase the operations of prior-owned company, Bay Chemicals, the business, now known as Cleveland Bay Chemical Company, has been producing and supplying chemical solutions to the local government authorities of North Queensland since its inception in 2003.

“When my father took over the company in 2015, we began looking at additional ways we could add value to our region’s products,” says Business Development Manager, Nicholas Whebell.

“As a North Queensland based chemical manufacturer, our raw materials are sourced locally and manufactured into chemicals for domestic or industrial use, and we supply across the region from Mackay up to Cooktown.”

After receiving support from the government’s $50 million Essential Goods and Supply Chain Program last year, the company is now in the process of manufacturing aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH), a compound used to treat drinking water and wastewater.

As COVID-19 continues to impact imports of various essential products, Nicholas says the plant is set to support the Queensland market demand for ACH, replace the need for foreign imports and add value to locally sourced raw materials.

“Currently we have to import ACH from overseas or interstate which was, and continues to be, a challenge due to COVID-19 as the disruption meant supply essentially became non-existent,” says Nicholas.

“The ACH will be manufactured using Queensland materials, including aluminium from Gladstone, and provided to industries and councils for water and wastewater treatment.

“This will significantly expand our offer of water treatment products and allow us to explore new market opportunities.”

In addition to supporting other local manufacturers and essential workers in the supply chain, Nicholas says the project will also enable them to upgrade key infrastructure and employ additional staff to construct the plant, which is estimated to generate around 2000 tonnes of ACH.

“We have access to all the raw materials to manufacture here in Townsville and this, in turn, makes everyone else in the supply chain more competitive,” says Nicholas.

“Being located on the Port Access Road is also highly beneficial as it means we have access to all the major transport routes.”

The company’s commitment to the region and its customers is what Nick says has enabled them to be a “small but competitive fish in the sea,” and with the emergence of new projects – such as the Hydrogen Hub and Battery Plant – their footprint is only expected to grow.

“Despite being a small company, we are very agile in what we are doing, and we support numerous essential industries and large customers, such as Sun Metals, that would otherwise have to source interstate,” continues Nicholas.

“There is enormous opportunity in North Queensland, and Townsville in particular, as there are numerous new industries that are developing alongside a lot of existing ones, so this is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Image Credit: Phil Copp Photography.

Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She is preparing to study with The School of The New York Times later this year before commencing her journalism qualifications.