THE irrigation town of Coleambally has been given a much-needed shot of confidence with news yesterday its rice mill would reopen.
Rumours have been rife for weeks that the mill, mothballed in late 2007, was set to reopen after a possible million-tonne harvest next season.
Sunrice chairman Gerry Lawson confirmed yesterday the mill would swing into full production in November, creating 34 full-time jobs.
The announcement has been welcomed by residents at a time when the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is threatening the future of the town.
"This is a real morale booster for those people who have stuck it out here over the past few years," Coly resident and Murrumbidgee shire councillor Jacqueline Noack said.
"It gives people hope that we're going in a positive direction. It's a huge announcement for both farmers and townspeople."
Sunrice will invest $2.3 million to reinstate the mill, with its continued operation to be reviewed on an annual basis.
"This is a sound decision for Sunrice, our shareholders and growers and of course a wonderful outcome for the people of Coleambally," Mr Lawson said.
"There will be marked community benefits from this decision: the creation of local jobs, a boost to local businesses and an optimistic outlook for the entire area following what has been a difficult number of years for the growing region."
The mill was placed into "care and maintenance" mode in 2007, when rice production plummeted to a low of 19,000 tonnes.
Following the post-drought recovery, the mill was reopened briefly in 2011.
Last year's harvest marked the second consecutive season of full production.