Crushing out for the season

North Queensland cane growers see out season


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UNSEASONABLE rainfall and mechanical issues have hampered the end to the 2017 sugar cane crush in North and Far North Queensland.

UNSEASONABLE rainfall and mechanical issues have hampered the end to the 2017 sugar cane crush in North and Far North Queensland.

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Invicta Mill weighbridge operator Andrea Berryman watches over the last bins getting tipped for the 2017 season.

Invicta Mill weighbridge operator Andrea Berryman watches over the last bins getting tipped for the 2017 season.

Wilmar Sugar’s four Burdekin mills were all expected to have crushed out today, but their Herbert district mills will still be operating until mid-December due to protracted wet weather.

Further north, MSF Sugar has been hampered by weather and mechanical issues forcing them to review the end of season crushing dates for several mills.

Wilmar Sugar’s Invicta Mill was the first Burdekin mil to finish the season, crushing out on Wednesday,  November 29 with a season total of 3.037 million tonnes of cane.

Kalamia Mill finished crushing about 4.10am last Friday, with a total throughput for the season of 1.6 million tonnes.

The last bin was tipped at Inkerman Mill about 9.10am on Sunday with the factory processing a season total of 1.723 million tonnes, while Pioneer Mill was expected to crush out about midday today.

In the south, Wilmar’s Proserpine Mill was the first to finish crushing on November 9, while Plane Creek Mill at Sarina finished a week later on November 16.

Burdekin Regional Operations Manager Paul Turnbull said intermittent rain had hampered harvesting and crushing operations in recent weeks.

“We’ve had a challenging end to the season, and I’m sure all sectors of the industry are pleased to be at the finish line, or very close to it,” Mr Turnbull said.

MSF Sugar CEO Mike Barry issued a letter to cane growers on Monday, stating that their crush out dates had been reviewed due to unforeseen circumstances.

The South Johnstone Mill lost a week of crushing time after the Number 5 mill failed on November 18. This resulted in delays for both the South Johnstone Mill and Mulgrave Mill, where additional cane was transferred to be processed.

“Our focus has turned to maximising throughput across the milling region to ensure that we finish the season as early as possible,” Mr Barry wrote.

“While Mulgrave Mill has not experienced any issues, the transfer of additional South Johnstone cane will impact the end of the season in both milling regions with harvesting contractors now scheduled to finish in the first week of December.”

Mulgrave was expected to finish crushing tomorrow, with South Johnstone expected to finish this Saturday, weather permitting.

The letter said the cause of the Number 5 mill breakdown was still being investigated.

The Tableland crushing season was also extended beyond MSF’s initial estimate due to unseasonable wet weather and storm activity this year, and is now expected to finish tomorrow.

While rainfall stoppages had an impact, a lightning strike in October that significantly damaged the mill transformer, caused power outages that lead to delays in production while damage could be repaired. Additional generators shipped in from Townsville supported the operation for 14 days until the main supply was restored.

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