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Farmers & Graziers

10 June, 2021

Solid crushing season expected for 2021

CHILLY weather and some promising signs around world prices have the Mackay region’s more than 900 sugar cane growers banking on a solid 2021 Crush.

By Meredith Papas

Mackay Sugar’s Racecourse Mill is expected to fire up today, while Marian Mill will start next week.

Farleigh Mill, also owned by Mackay Sugar, started crushing last week.

Wilmar’s Plane Creek Mill is expected to start June 15 and Proserpine Mill on June 29. The company’s Invicta Mill, in the Burdekin, started Tuesday.

Mackay Sugar, owned by Nordzucker (70 percent) and Mackay Growers (30 percent), is starting the crush off the back of what Chief Operating Officer Joachim Rueger describes as a productive maintenance period.

“We have invested more than $70million into works and maintenance across the entire Mackay Sugar network this year,” Mr Rueger said.

“That’s everything from the locos and track, to bins, and the factories.”

Mr Rueger said the works would optimise processes, and help set the mills up for the future.

Despite this, Farleigh Mill’s start-up lent an early test of Farleigh Mill engineers.

The mill started a day earlier than scheduled after successful steam trials but came to a halt under load.

“We have an experienced and engaged team there and they responded very well,” he said.

Mackay Sugar Cane Supply Manager Jason Walton said CCS levels were showing early promise with levels of about 11.4 reported upon commencement.

“This is a good whole unit above what we were expecting for this stage of the Crush, so that is a promising sign,” Mr Walton said.

He said Mackay Sugar’s Crop estimate stood at about 5.3Mtonnes, up on last year’s crop of 5.155Mtonnes.

Willmar spokesperson Leanne Oliveri said the company had a group wide crop estimate of 15.29Mtonnes, up from 2020’s 14.93Mtonnes – across its four Burdekin and two Mackay region mills.

Plane Creek’s estimate stood at 1.3Mtonnes, up from 1.23Mtonnes in 2020; and Proserpine’s estimate was 1.64Mtonnes, up from 1.54M in 2020.

Ms Oliveri said both the Proserpine and Plane Creek mills had undergone extensive capital and maintenance works programs in the Slack (non-crushing season), with more than $7.2M invested in works across the two mills.

As at this week, the World Sugar Price was at $17/pound – still down from the high of $18.80 in late February; and $484.58/tonne.

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