Mill spends up for crush
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