Mt Isa

Current Operation

  • Closed 19862                                       


  Australia. Mt Isa jpg          


  • AMH


  • QLD Meat Industry board operated and was responsible for co ordination of wartime meat production
  • Export2
  • Nominal Capacity 56,000hd per 50 weeks2



  • Mt Isa Meatworks and cold storage facilities  built


  • Over capacity of the meat processing sector had always been a chronic problem, but where previously it was due to seasonal factors now the problem was a direct result of management decisions during the late 1970’s (Pg 85, thesis)3

    • Chronic over capacity, undersupply of cattle and oversupply of labour requirements (Pg 117, thesis)3
    • Processing sector shed 15,000 jobs between 1980-1984 (Pg 117, thesis)3
      Entire export sector was regulated by the speed and skill of the production process (The chain and CanPak killing systems), bureaucratic control systems regulated the substantive and procedural rules (The tally and awards)(Pg 120, thesis)3
    • the only way forward for employers was rationalisation of the production capacity (Pg 120, thesis)3


  • Australian Meat Holdings (AMH) – Four largest meat processors in Australia had decided to combine their resources(Pg 126, thesis)3
    • FJ Walkers (Wholly owned by Elders)3
    • Metro Meat Industries3
    • Smorgon Consolidated Industries3
    • Tancred Brothers3
      • combined assets $90M (Pg 127, thesis)3
      • Plan was to combine resources of QLD meat processing facilities, take over Mackay (then owned by Borthwicks) and Bowen plants. Establish the most suitable operating capacity for the new entity and then rationalise the remaining excess capacity (Pg 126 thesis)3
      • Borthwicks latter withdrew from talks but was latter taken over by AMH in 1987 (Pg 128, thesis)3
  • AMH principal objective was to rationalise capacity of its 9 abattoirs, so the remaining plants would operate near full capacity (Pg 128, thesis)3
    • two older plants immediately decomissioned (Pg 128, thesis)3
      • Authors note – think Cairns Abattoir ( QLD)  and Cape River were two of these plants.
      • By 1996 AMH had closed 5 of the 9 plants.(Pg 128, thesis)3


  • July. NorthBeef Group formed to start feasibility study to investigate the availability of establishment of new processing works in western QLD4
    • Enormous swathe of Australian cattle country isn’t served by local meat processing facilities4
    • abattoir built locally could reduce trucking cattle long distances and provide alternative markets4
  • Past operations suffered due to inability to secure year-round supplies to maintain viable business4
  • High Australian dollar currently reducing price competitiveness of Australian boxed beef in key export markets4
  • Abattoirs closed in last 25-30 years – Pentland, Mt Isa and Cloncurry4
  • Wait time to have cattle processed in Townsville currently 4-6 weeks4
  • New operation
    • Need to process 500 head a day4
    • Possibly ship from Townsville4
    • Look at using 457 visas, fly in/fly out employees.4


  1. Competition & Exit in Meat Processing. Agribusiness review Vol 7 1999
  2. Employers & Industrial Relations in the Australian Meat processing Industry. P. O’Leary 2008
  3. ‘Producers examine northern meatworks concept’ Bee Central. 07.03.2014


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