Mill at the cross­road

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

THE lo­cal su­gar in­dus­try is at a his­toric cross­road, fol­low­ing Mackay Su­gar’s lat­est an­nounce­ment that it wants to sell all of the Moss­man Mill.

Last month it told grow­ers it wanted them to buy half the mill at least, due to its own hefty fi­nan­cial prob­lems stem­ming from its south­ern op­er­a­tions.

The prospect of the cur­rent owner de­part­ing the Moss­man op­er­a­tion en­tirely has sud­denly Mum Jill and Au­drey Smith en­joyed Bod­ies in Mo­tion’s an­nual Easter dance show at Port Vil­lage Shop­ping Plaza on Sun­day, where the big bunny was one of the stars. thrust the fu­ture of lo­cal su­gar pro­duc­tion into play.

It’s a cri­sis but pos­si­bly a good one.

Lo­cal own­er­ship brings the prospect that with the in­vest­ment of new tech­nol­ogy at the mill, it could be­come a bio-re­fin­ery that is about a lot more than milling su­gar.

Prom­i­nent lo­cal grower Don Mur­day, head of the Aus­tralian Su­gar Cane Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, sees it as a trans­for­ma­tive op­por­tu­nity to both en­sure the fu­ture of milling op­er­a­tions lo­cally and also to create an en­ergy hub, through the pro­duc­tion of gas, that would gen­er­ate money and in­crease lo­cal self-re­liance in en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

Mackay chair­man An­drew Capello had a meet­ing with Moss­man grow­ers last week.

“It’s quite clear that Mackay Su­gar aren’t go­ing to put any more money into it [Moss­man Cen­tral],” Mr Mur­day said. “So we ei­ther wither on the vine or we get pro-ac­tive.”

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