END OF CRUSH: The last blocks to be harvested at Balnagowan.
END OF CRUSH: The last blocks to be harvested at Balnagowan.

END OF CRUSH: Mackay Sugar reveals $13m cash splash

MACKAY Sugar will splash $13 million on major maintenance projects across its three mills to improve reliability.

The focus is on boilers and milling trains but work is planned across all areas of the factories, rolling stock and railways.

Details were announced in a Mackay Sugar grower update, released Friday. They include a major $3.5 million refurbishment of boiler three at Farleigh; boiler 3 economisers worth $2 million at Marian; and a $1 million repair and rail replacement upgrade at Murray Creek bridge and St Helens Creek bridge.

Investment at the mills was flagged earlier this year when German sugar giant Nordzucker completed its 70 per cent takeover of Mackay Sugar.

The Central Queensland harvest is officially over for another year after Mackay Sugar mills finished crushing last week.

More than 4.9 million tonnes of cane was crushed for the season across the Farleigh, Marian and Racecourse mills.

This resulted in the manufacture of about 685,000 tonnes of raw sugar.

Mackay Sugar reported overall CCS of 14.0.

The results were slightly down from the pre-season estimate of five million tonnes of cane and 696,000 tonnes of raw sugar.

Mackay Sugar chief executive Mark Day said although the season had been longer than desired, all cane was crushed that growers and their harvesters were prepared to harvest.

Mr Day thanked growers for their commitment throughout the season.

"We have some successes in tough seasons and we have challenges," he said.

"We are now working on permanent fixes to these issues that have accumulated over many years.

Distribution of cane had been a major challenge, Mr Day said.

"With the Farleigh area yield down and Marian higher than the estimate, we were transferring up to 2000t/day to Farleigh.

"Over the season around 250kt of cane had to be transferred to get the mills finishing within a few days of each other.

"Marian was our most difficult challenge and there is an increased focus there for this maintenance season."

 

Mackay Sugar chief executive Mark Day.
Mackay Sugar chief executive Mark Day.

READ MORE: Growers pray for rain as 2019 Plane Creek crush ends

Canegrowers Mackay area committee chairman Joseph Borg said finishing crushing in the first week of December was later than the ideal time frame.

"However, given the circumstances - both the financial and physical condition of the mills - growers will be relieved the harvest has finished with no standover cane," Mr Borg said.

 

END OF CRUSH: Canegrowers Mackay area committee chairman Joseph Borg.
END OF CRUSH: Canegrowers Mackay area committee chairman Joseph Borg.

Mr Borg said he hoped the multimillion-dollar maintenance program would bring about improved milling performance, as well as a better season, next year.

"We have hopes that world sugar prices will rise, given recent forecasts that demand will outstrip supply," he said.

"We are in the box seat when it comes to market demand, with much of the growth forecast for South East Asia.

"We also have a solid market in Australia with people still turning to sugar to add a little sweetness to their lives."

 

Final crush results:

Farleigh - 1,609,900 tonnes

Marian - 1,939,300 tonnes

Racecourse - 1,376,700 tonnes

Total - 4,925,900 tonnes

 

CCS - 14.0

Sugar - 685,000t IPS



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