Grow­ers pon­der new fu­ture as Mackay walks away

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

FROM PAGE 1 “The mes­sage I’m get­ting from Mackay Su­gar is that we pay a $2 a tonne levy to fix up their south­ern mills or we pay that to buy the [Moss­man] mill back. That’s what I read into it.

“Mackay Su­gar has agreed to progress the ne­go­ti­a­tions, us­ing David Wil­liams from Kid­der Wil­liams, and it’s a mat­ter of us form­ing a steer­ing com­mit­tee of coastal and Table­lands grow­ers to look at the op­tions and do the due dili­gence.”

He be­lieves Wil­mar would not buy the mill. Maybe the Thais (MSF) might be in­ter­ested, as it would of­fer syn­er­gies with their ex­ist­ing plant at Ar­riga on the Table­lands.

As for ask­ing price, Mr Mur­day said “they have told us noth­ing. But they didn’t pay a lot for it so I ex­pect we wouldn’t have to pay a lot to get it back.”

As for the lo­cal grow­ers buy­ing the mill, it rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity. “A cleaner deal would be to buy the whole mill rather than around half,” Mr Mur­day said.

“Clearly Mackay Su­gar have is­sues with their bank, and I don’t see much ben­e­fit in hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with them go­ing for­ward if they are al­ready in trou­ble.

“I think we re­ally need to look to do things to­tally dif­fer­ent here. It’s got to in­clude co­gen­er­a­tion, value ad­ding, su­gar, and any other by-prod­ucts, and I don’t know that with us be­ing as­so­ci­ated with Mackay Su­gar that would nec­es­sar­ily hap­pen like it needs to.”

Mr Mur­day said ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy of­fered new op­tions that would both make the mill more ef­fi­cient but also would ex­pand and trans­form its role within the com­mu­nity, as it be­came an en­ergy hub.

Co-gen would in­volve re­plac­ing the aged boil­ers at the Mill with ei­ther a new high pres­sure boiler or a new tech­nol­ogy called cel­lu­lose digestion which makes meth­ane gas from which you can gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity [see box].

“There are some av­enues there which can be ex­plored with the north­ern devel­op­ment money that is avail­able and also there’s def­i­nite in­ter­est from the power gen­er­a­tors to gen­er­ate power at this end of the grid.

“With the trans­mis­sion losses of get­ting elec­tric­ity up here from Cen­tral Queens­land of 30-40 per cent in leak­age, it makes a lot of sense to be gen­er­at­ing power up this end of the grid.

“So if the Ma­reeba grow­ers come on­board that guar­an­tees a cane sup­ply, which then makes co-gen pos­si­ble.”

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