Of­fer on ta­ble for grow­ers

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - RICK KOENIG AND AMANDA ROBBEMOND

SUGAR cane grow­ers on the Gold Coast have re­jected an of­fer from their south­ern coun­ter­parts to crush their cane at a north­ern NSW mill.

Sun­shine Sugar, which op­er­ates three mills, at Con­dong, Broad­wa­ter and Har­wood, have of­fered to move north­ern Gold Coast cane across the bor­der fol­low­ing on­go­ing prob­lems with the Rocky Point Sugar Mill.

But Rocky Point Cane­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion boss Richard Skopp says it was un­likely that they would need to send cane down to the Con­dong mill in the Tweed Shire.

“At this stage we ex­pect that our mill will be able to crush the crop,” he said.

“The prob­lem piece of ma­chin­ery ... is re­ceiv­ing up­grades at the mo­ment. (The ma­chin­ery) was our prob­lem last year.”

Mr Skopp said they would al­ways keep their op­tions open if they needed ex­tra crush­ing or had a ma­jor fail­ure.

“But at the cur­rent price of sugar it wouldn't be vi­able,” he said of the of­fer.

Sun­shine Sugar CEO Chris Con­nors said the com­pany was in “ne­go­ti­a­tions with a num­ber of grow­ers” to “get their cane on our mills” in or­der to keep the in­dus­try vi­able.

“Over the last three years the Rocky Point Mill hasn’t been able to crush all the cane up there and we’re look­ing at how to sus­tain that in­dus­try,” he said. “We’re work­ing with them and look­ing at the best op­tions. We think for their sus­tain­abil­ity it’s an ar­range­ment that will see them in Con­dong for the long term.”

The move comes as a blow for the Gold Coast sugar in­dus­try, which has strug­gled since a fire in 2016 dam­aged the Rocky Point Sugar Mill.

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