Cane crush starts at Proserpine
IT’S all systems go at the Proserpine sugar mill where the 2013 cane crushing season is now underway.
Crushing was scheduled to start on June 12 but rain caused delays until June 24. The mill was finally fired up on Monday afternoon after a six-month annual maintenance period and capital works program was completed.
Site manager Danny Van Der Berg said crushing started at 2pm but was halted for a couple of hours due to a problem with one of the crushing mills.
Teething troubles aside, Mr Van Der Berg said it was good to be up and running again, with the mill expected to crush a cane crop of about 1.67 million tonnes in the season ahead.
About 230 people will be employed in the factory, cane supply and transport sectors from now until the season ends in mid-November.
During the crush, sugar cane is harvested and delivered to the mill. It is shredded then crushed through five sequential mills where juice is extracted from the fibrous husk. The remaining fibre, known as bagasse, is sent to the mill’s boilers where it is used to generate steam and create electricity.
Meanwhile the juice is sent to the mill’s concentration plant and on to the factory’s cooking kitchen or ‘ pan stage’. Here it is injected with miniature sugar crystals that are grown into a concentrated ‘mother liquor’ or massecuite. The massecuite is dropped into centrifugal equipment where it is spun at high speed to separate the sugar crystals out. The end product is raw sugar, which is transported to a terminal in Mackay.
This will be the second crushing season for Proserpine’s mill since changing from a growerowned co-operative to Wilmar/Sucrogen ownership in 2011.
Last month the mill was officially re-branded by its Singaporean-based parent company Wilmar, which chose to dispense with the Australian Sucrogen umbrella in line with its international sugar franchise.
Mr Van Der Berg said more than $15million had been invested in the mill ahead of this year’s crush.
RAW PRODUCT: Wilmar Proserpine site manager Danny Van Der Berg with the first of the season's sugar cane harvest at the Proserpine Mill. The mill's 2013 crushing season started on Monday afternoon.