Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions Ramps Ups As First Exports Roll Out

Defence manufacturer Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions’ Queensland artillery shell plant is growing exponentially as it takes another important step towards full-rate production.

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

The jobs surge comes as Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions CEO and Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions Chairman Roman Koehne toured the $90m facility for the first time to congratulate the team on the first international shipment to Germany.

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.

Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions CEO and Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions Chairman Roman Koehne with RNM Project Manager Jeff Crabtree, right, and NIOA Group CEO and RNM Deputy Chairman Rob Nioa at the Maryborough factory.

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

“Factories like this are the future,” Mr 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.

“Germany, like Australia, requires certainty of supply for critical munitions to support our armed forces.

“We congratulate Jeff and the RNM team on what is an important milestone with the first batch of shells arriving at Rheinmetall in Germany.”

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.

RNM staff with the first consignment of test shells exported to Germany

“This facility not only contributes to Australian and allied capability, but the benefits are clearly flowing through to the local economy,” he said.

“We have had some good success in attracting quality people from around the Wide Bay region, Queensland and internationally with a variety of skills and experience.

“As production increases, so will the demand to find more people. There are some great opportunities to be part of the team in a next-generation Australian defence manufacturer.”

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

155mm projectile on the Maryborough production line.

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.”

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

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