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Development at Vopnafjördur almost complete

The five-year, ISK three billion investment process in the pelagic sector that has been in progress since the formal merger of HB Grandi hf and Tangi hf is approaching completion. The final work on the new fishmeal plant is expected to be finished early next year, after which the next step is expected to be renovation of the pelagic processing factory.

This stage will include the addition of two automatic herring filleting machines, as well as additional equipment that will allow them to be used to process mackerel better for human consumption. According to HB Grandi’s CEO Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson, the total investment is expected to come close to ISK four billion.

This was revealed at a meeting between key HB Grandi staff and local government figures in Vopnafjördur yesterday. Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson and Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, head of the company’s pelagic division, joined Vopnafjördur-based staff, plant manager Magnús Róbertsson and technical manager Gísli Sigmarsson to present the company’s progress and future plans. This was followed by a tour of the premises, including the new fishmeal plant, the pelagic processing plant and the new fishmeal store that is under construction.

As both Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson and Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson commented, opportunities to catch pelagic species have decreased significantly since 2005, when vessels operated by the newly merged companies caught 265,000 tonnes of blue whiting, herring and capelin, but by comparison, the company quotas for the same species this year came to a total of 63,000 tonnes, due primarily to the decision not to open the capelin season and the considerable reduction in fishing for blue whiting. On the other hand, opportunities for mackerel have increased and this year HB Grandi’s vessels landed 18,500 tonnes of mackerel. In spite of fewer opportunities in pelagic species, Vopnafjördur has held its own better than many rural communities and there are 53 full-time HB Grandi staff at Vopnafjördur.

Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson commented particularly on the expectations the company has for the fishmeal factory, which is one of the most sophisticated of it´s kind anywhere. The aim of the investment in this was to improve capacity and the quality of the finished products, while also reducing running costs and switching to a more environmentally-friendly mode of production. Among the innovations are a new boiler that has already been tested, making this the only factory of its kind in the world that uses exclusively electrical power for the production of high-quality fishmeal. The improvement in emissions is considerable as now there is no longer a need to use oil as a fuel, and over the past few years the factory has consumed between 2.50 and 3 million litres of oil annually.

By switching to an enclosed system for storage and transport of fishmeal from the store to cargo vessels, the use of fishmeal bags can be discontinued. Annually the factory has used between 11,000 and 12,000 such bags, that have to be disposed of after use.
The air conditioning system in the new building is also one of the best available. The entire production process is enclosed and by maintaining a slightly lower air pressure inside the building, air and odours are prevented from escaping other than through the building’s 40 metre chimney. This replaces the old factory’s 20 metre chimney. Particular emphasis is placed on making full use of blood water, as well as passing any material that could contain oil through a separator. Special tanks are being set up for cleaning fluids, with the intention of being able to fully exploit these materials by using them more than once to clean factory equipment.