• RNM staff with the first consignment of test shells exported to Germany. (Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions)
    RNM staff with the first consignment of test shells exported to Germany. (Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions)

Defence manufacturer Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions’ Queensland artillery shell plant has made its first international shipment to Germany as the factory moves towards full-rate production. 

A consignment of 155mm shells produced out of Maryborough recently landed at Rheinmetall’s Unterluess Test Centre where they successfully completed dynamic testing. 

RNM uses cutting edge technology to produce 155mm artillery projectiles and metal parts for other munitions used by the Australian Defence Force as well as allied countries.

The Maryborough factory’s workforce has reportedly more than doubled to 60 since this time last year, with another 30 vacancies to be filled by July. 

At full-rate production, RNM anticipates that it will have a workforce of up to 100 with the ability to produce up to 100,000 projectiles a year running multiple shifts.

Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions CEO and Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions Chairman Roman Koehne toured the $90 million facility for the first time to congratulate the team on the first batch of shells arriving in Germany. 

“Factories like this are the future,” Koehne said. “The level of technology combined with highly-skilled people make this facility the most advanced of its kind in the world. 

“The war in Ukraine has showed us that allied nations are increasingly looking for reliable sources that can manufacture the 155mm projectile.

“Rheinmetall has a great partnership with NIOA and together we believe that Maryborough has the potential to serve as a key link in the global munitions supply chain while building Australia’s defence manufacturing base."

RNM says worldwide artillery supplies of the kind the factory produces are dwindling as the Ukraine war drains US and NATO stockpiles faster than they can be replenished. 

Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions Deputy Chairman and NIOA Group CEO Robert Nioa said NIOA would continue to invest in future defence capability.

“NIOA is committed to growing our defence industrial base well into the future. High-tech factories like RNM play a significant role in delivering that capability,” he said. 

“Being able to produce our own ammunition in Australia is not only vital to our national resilience but it creates new jobs and new technologies as well as export potential.”

RNM Project Manager Jeff Crabtree said the demand for workers would continue as the plant accelerated capacity. 

Roles include skilled and unskilled operators, trades and apprentices, quality control, IT and security, supply chain and administration support.  

The joint venture factory has had multi-level government backing with a $28.5 million injection from the Federal Government’s Regional Growth Fund as well as $7.5 million from the Queensland Government’s Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and support from the Fraser Coast regional council.

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