Talks on Mossman mill deal ride the slow train
LOCAL canegrowers are not very far advanced in their negotiations with Mackay Sugar over the proposed sale of Mossman Central Mill.
According to local Canegrowers group representative Drew Watson, grower groups have been involved in the slow progress of confidentiality agreements with the company, before the actual talks about any deal can begin.
“When we do get to talk to them we do need to gain some sort of resolution,” Mr Watson said.
“But I can understand that their focus is probably not us at the moment, it is probably on their own problems in Mackay and we have probably been put a little bit to the side for now.
“In the long term we need to sort it out, and we need to keep our doors open.”
He reiterated the importance of the Tableland growers to the future of Mossman Central Mill.
Next March, the Tablelands growers can give two years notice if they wish to walk away from the current agreement.
It is vital for Mossman that the Tablelands tonnage continues to go to Mossman.
“If the Tableland growers don’t roll over the agreement and sign with another mill, that’s going to make operations very difficult for Mossman,” Mr Watson said.
“We need their throughput. When we were without it before, we were supporting the mill at $2 a tonne.”
Encouragingly for the coastal growers, the Tablelanders are keen to remain with Mossman.
“They’re very keen to stay, and they’re trying to make it happen.
“They are a very united group and are very strong.
“That’s the encouraging bit as far as we are concerned.”
He said “another curveball” in the equation is that the next Tablelands crop would be down, because of the lack of water.
The coastal cane crop, however, is looking pretty good.
“We dodged a bullet when that rain missed us the other day,” he said. “It’s drying out quite nicely here.
“I’d expect that this year we will return to the average CCS level, around a unit higher, than it was last year.
“The average is around 12.5, but we were down to 11 last year. It’s possible.”
The sugar price has weakened somewhat lately.
Last year the price got up to $560 or better but growers will get between $490 and $530 a tonne of sugar, depending on how they managed their futures.
Local Canegrowers group representative Drew Watson