Cane crush starts at Proser­pine

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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