Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

Cobram Estate now the US’s biggest producer of olive oil

Cobram Estate Olives has likely become the largest olive oil producer in the United States following strong growth seen in the just completed 2023 Californian harvest season. The company saw the production of 3.2 million litres of olive oil, 89 percent higher than 29022’s harvest and 48 percent higher than 2021. Growth was driven by supply from 3rd party olive growers and the maturing profile of the company’s own Californian olive groves. Only 14 percent of CBO’s US groves are mature. During the year Cobram increased packaged product prices by 12 percent and was able to maintain strong sales rates. Flowering has now begun at the company’s Australian groves.

Incitec Pivot’s new CEO Mauro de Moraes

Fertiliser and explosives group Incitec Pivot has appointed experienced mining sector executive Mauro de Moraes as CEO and Managing Director following an extensive search. de Moraes has worked in senior roles in the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance and BHP’s Escondida copper operations in Chile. IPL Chairman Greg Robinson said: “Mauro has executive leadership experience in the mining and logistics sectors across multiple geographies. His global expertise provides deep knowledge of the strategic and operational issues facing companies across the mining sector.” Robinson also thanks interim CEO Paul Victor who ‘led our company with passion and commitment through the transition’.

Arafura raises $25 million to further rare earths project

Arafura Rare Earths has raised $25 million from investors – upsized from $20 million due to demand – to pursue its giant Nolans rare earths project in the Northern Territory. The mine and processing plant, which will produce in demand neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr), will now proceed towards a targeted contractual close for project financing. Detailed engineering by engineers Hatch are advancing detailed design and construction planning. Procurement of data and equipment to support detailed engineering is underway.

EOS adds Dr Andreas Schwer to its Board

Defence and communications group Electro Optic Systems has appointed Dr Andreas Schwer to its board of directors. Schwer was appointed as CEO in 2022, and will now gold the titles CEO and Managing Director. Schwer, an aerospace engineer, has been chairman and board member of the Australian metal 3D-printer manufacturer Titomic since July 2020. He has had senior roles in global companies including Airbus, The Manitowoc Company (USA), Rheinmetall-Defence was the inaugural CEO of Saudi Arabian Military Industries.

Titomic extends Herbert Koeck’s contract

Metal 3D printer manufacturer Titomic has confirmed the extension of Herbert Koeck’s contract as Managing Director for a further term of at least 12 months and ‘up to two years’. Titomic said Koeck has overseen the transition of the company from a R&D focused operation to a ‘robust commercial company’. “Titomic is seeing increased interest in its cold spray additive manufacturing technology, patented as Titomic Kinetic Fusion, with significant commercial traction for both manufacturing solutions as well as repair and maintenance within several industrial sectors. As a result Titomic’s revenue has grown significantly.”

Federal government puts $10 million into new microcredential courses

Higher education providers can apply for funding to deliver microcredentials in priority areas such as teaching, nursing, IT and engineering from mid-2024, the federal government said on Friday. The government is spending approximately $10 million in 50 new microcredential courses, small courses designed to upskill and reskill workers in short timeframes, in the second round of the Microcredentials Pilot for Higher Education. “With more and more jobs requiring a post-school qualification, it is increasingly important for people to upskill and reskill throughout their careers,” said education minister Jason Clare. “Microcredentials can help Australians prepare for the jobs of the future.”

Alpha HPA appoints new director

The board of high-purity alumina business Alpha HPA has announced Annie Liu as an independent, Non-Executive Director on its board. Liu is described as a seasoned executive, having spent over 20 years in building and leading teams across stages from
product incubation to rapid growth and scale-up in mature markets. Annie was the Executive Director at Ford (Model E) from 2022 to 2023, and is a co-founder of EV value chain consultancy Alto Group. Alpha Chairman Norman Seckold said “We are delighted to welcome Annie to the Board of Alpha. Her experience, knowledge and energy will be an enormous asset to the Company as we enter the next growth stage of our business”.

MYEFO research funding bad for innovation

The federal government’s reallocation funding for research translation and commercialisation in this week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) report, taking $46.2 million over four years from Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) program, has been criticised by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE.) The AEA is the Department of Education’s flagship research and development program, intended to build a research pipeline and enable Australia to realise the returns on this investment. Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) CEO Kylie Walker said “Australia’s Economic Accelerator program is a critical initiative commercialising great Australian research into home-grown innovations… In its first year of operation, the AEA program received research applications for ten times the amount available. Reallocating the AEA fund provides a short-term balance to the budget, at the cost of long-term returns and innovation. ATSE has urged an increase in research and innovation spending to 3 per cent of GDP “into line with international peers as an engine for productivity growth.”

Picture: credit Cobram Estate Olives

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