Austin Engineering says it has achieved a significant development milestone and moved a step closer to undertaking a major rebuild and expansion of its US manufacturing base in Casper, Wyoming, after securing the benefit of a $20 million grant and loan package through the City of Mills, Wyoming and the Wyoming Business Council.
The funds are designated for the construction of a proposed new circa-69,000-sq.ft (6,410-sq.m) manufacturing facility and a 15,000-sq.ft paint and blast building on the site of Austin’s existing manufacturing facility, on land already owned by Austin. The grant and loan facility is made to the City of Mills, which will build the facility to Austin’s requirements, and lease it to the company.
North America is Austin’s strongest performing business unit on a revenue and margin basis, the company says. The expansion of the Casper facility would significantly increase the manufacturing capacity for Austin’s customised mining haul truck bodies primarily for the US and Canada. It will also be capable of manufacturing other product lines such as mining buckets, water tanks, and tyre handlers.
The $15 million grant and $5 million loan package application was approved by the State Loan and Investment Board. It requires final approval from the Wyoming State Attorney General and the Austin Board after a full review of the business case. The Austin Board does not expect to give final development approval for the new facility until the end of the year after a full business case has been completed and assessed.
If final approval is given, construction could commence sometime in late financial year 2024 (to end-June 2024) following board approval, final facility design and permitting, with the build forecast to take up to two years. The construction will not affect the existing production output and it is envisaged that it would create circa-50 new permanent jobs in addition to the current 110-strong staff base.
As part of the investment, Austin would need to commit a further $5 million capital funding for the facility, the majority of which would need to be spent during its 2025 and 2026 financial years.
As part of the package, Austin has agreed to donate approximately 25 acres (10.1 ha) of land, that is mostly industrially unusable, due to being part of a floodplain, and not required for production or storage, to the City of Mills for future community development projects and public facilities.
In the last 12 months, Austin has undertaken expansions of its Indonesian and Chilean-based facilities, enhancing both output and manufacturing efficiencies across the business. However, this investment would be the biggest undertaken to expand capacity.
Austin CEO and Managing Director, David Singleton, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this funding package from the Wyoming Business Council to undertake a much-needed rebuild of our existing facilities. As well as being part of the local community in the City of Mills since 1940, and Wyoming since 1938, our Casper facility is the hub of our rapidly growing North American operations.
“North America’s financial year 2023 revenues were up 13% year-on-year. We had recently taken a short-term lease on a facility to meet increased orders in the region. A larger, permanent facility would enable Austin to increase its output further in line with expected growth.
“This rebuild will also ensure Austin US stays at the forefront of designing and building customised truck bodies, mining buckets and other equipment. The determination to improve mining efficiency in North America has seen a strong growth in demand for trays and buckets, particularly in recent years, and is expected to continue.