WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — Since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, CBH Group has been working to reduce the spread and supply chain disruptions. The co-op also has made plans to postpone some storage expansion projects due to the virus.

In late February 2020, CBH approved the expansion of storage capacity at six sites, including 127,000 tonnes of additional storage at Brookton, 14,000 tonnes at Dale and 136,000 tonnes at Hyden.

CBH has been closely monitoring the impacts COVID-19 could have on planned network investments for this year.

“Given the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which immediately followed the smaller harvest in 2019-20, CBH has reviewed the delivery of our 2020 network investment,” said Jimmy Wilson, chief executive officer of CBH. “While we are in a good financial position, the virus continues to have a significant impact on the broader economy, including on our customers, suppliers and financial markets.

“We need to ensure we take a prudent approach in this environment so that we are well placed for success in the longer term.

“We’ve needed to consider the uncertainty created by the virus on project delivery timelines, the safe and timely completion of the projects before harvest, and the complexity and scale of works for each project.”

CBH has determined that work will continue at the storage expansion projects at Konnongorring, Moora and Watheroo, where site work has commenced.

Storage expansion projects at Brookton, Dale and Hyden will be deferred until early 2021.

“While we are disappointed to defer projects, we are focused on ensuring growers who deliver to these sites are serviced in the best way possible,” Wilson said. “As crop estimates come in, we will be able to determine if emergency storage is required, or if nearby non-network sites need to be opened.”

Work at the storage expansion projects at Konnongorring, Moora and Watheroo, which started earlier, are progressing, and are expected to be completed before harvest.

In addition to the storage expansion projects, CBH will continue the annual maintenance shutdowns of its four ports and will progress sustaining network capital projects.

“Our 2020 network investment is fully funded, and CBH remains in a good financial position with a strong balance sheet that has minimal gearing and A$1.8 billion in net assets,” Wilson said. “We remain committed to investing in the network for the benefit of our growers and we thank them for their patience as we seek to balance the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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