Mill spends up for crush

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - An­gelique Pat­ter­son

THE largest amount of cap­i­tal in at least five years is be­ing spent on the Moss­man Mill, ready for this year’s crush. Up­grad­ing of the Moss­man Mill is in full swing, with an in­crease in cap­i­tal to $7 mil­lion be­ing spent to en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity.

With the ad­di­tional cane com­ing from the Table­lands, Mackay Sugar are de­ter­mined to make sure the mill’s up­grade is com­pleted prior to start of the crush sea­son, which will be in May.

Mackay Sugar CEO Quin­ton Hildebrand met with cane­grow­ers this week and in­spected the on­go­ing works, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tional $600,000 al­lo­cated to fix the boil­ers.

‘‘It’s well up on the money spent on the mill pre­vi­ously. Con­trac­tors are on site and the tar­get is to start the sea­son in May, de­pend­ing on the weather,’’ Mr Hildebrand said.

‘‘The ad­di­tional work is what we’ve cho­sen to take on, projects to make the mill more re­li­able by tar­get­ing as­pects where there has been short­com­ings in re­cent years and there are ad­di­tional needs we hope to ad­dress in the fu­ture.

‘‘ Old mills al­ways need to be up­graded and I be­lieve we have ad­dressed the main is­sues to give con­fi­dence for the up­com­ing crush.’’

Mr Hildebrand said the coastal crop looks promis­ing and they ex­pect an in­crease on last year’s crop, but it is too soon to tell about the Table­land cane.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be a good year for cane from a pro­duc­tion per­spec­tive, how­ever the price of sugar is at the low­est level in 3.5 years with large stocks from re­cent years’ good pro­duc­tion level,’’ he said.

‘‘At this point in time there is un­cer­tainty on the fu­ture of the Brazil­ian crop – their cy­cle is sim­i­lar to ours but ac­counts for half of the sugar ex­port in the mar­ket.

‘‘They’ve had a very dry few months and if the drought con­tin­ues in Brazil it could help the price of sugar in the next cou­ple of months.’’

To en­sure good qual­ity sugar – and a re­li­able Moss­man Mill – an ex­tra shift has been im­ple­ment and recruitment will shortly be­gin for more elec­tri­cians and gen­eral mill work­ers, to help pre­pare for the sea­son and to work dur­ing the crush.

While many of the sea­sonal work­ers will be re­turn­ing from pre­vi­ous years, gen­eral man­ager Haydn Slat­tery said they are re­cruit­ing early for the crush to give new em­ploy­ees on the job train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘Main­te­nance is slightly be­hind where we want it to be but we are putting ex­tra re­sources and re­cruit­ing ex­tra gen­eral mill work­ers and elec­tri­cians to keep on tar­get for early May,’’ he said.

‘‘We have fin­ished all in­spec­tions and we are be­hind be­cause of things that came up in those in­spec­tion. They are all done now and we are busy pulling the place apart and fix­ing ev­ery­thing.

‘‘Our main fo­cus is re­li­a­bil­ity and we are tar­get­ing ar­eas through a cap­i­tal fo­cus and main­te­nance to in­crease in­put rate back to where it used to be at 310 tonnes of cane crushed per hour.’’

As part of the get­ting ready for the crush, Mackay Sugar are con­tin­u­ing work­shops with Table­land com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Ju­lat­ten and Mt Mol­loy, to­gether with the Queens­land Po­lice, Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads and their con­trac­tors Q Lo­gis­tics, fur­ther­ing dis­cus­sions on so­lu­tions iden­ti­fied to date, which CEO Mr Hildebrand said they are ‘‘look­ing to im­ple­ment prior to May’’.

UP­GRADES: main­te­nance and works be­ing com­pleted at the mill

GET­TING READY: Gene Ros­sow at work


Haydn Slat­tery, Quin­ton Hildebrand and Casey Dunn

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