Despite experiencing two major flood events since the start of 2018, MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave Mill is on track to commence the crushing season on Tuesday 12 June as planned.
While flooding across the region was widespread, forward crop estimates remain on par with 2017 and a healthy 1,272,000 tonnes of sugarcane is expected through the rollers. This is marginally down on last year’s crop when the Mill crushed 1,300,066 tonnes of sugarcane.
Mulgrave Mill Manager Chris Hoare said the factory had been prepared ahead of the crush to ensure a timely start and following successful steam trials early this month, growers and residents living nearby will soon be able to see the signature steam coming from the boiler stack.
“Normal maintenance has been undertaken during the non-crushing season and we expect a good startup this year.
“The start of crush signals an important time of year for the region as with Mill operations about to commence, we are running at full capacity in our workforce, directly employing 470 people across our milling and farming activities.
Once you incorporate supply partners and growers, our operations during crush support around 740 families in the region, injecting $106 million annually back into the local economy,” he said.
From 12 June the 2018 crush will operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and based on an operating rate of 430 tonnes per hour, is expected to run for around 22 weeks. The Mill will be supplied by 169 growers who in turn will be serviced by 27 harvesting groups.
Upgrades and maintenance projects undertaken during the off-season have been performed by employees or in partnership with local contractors wherever possible.
“During the off-season, we used local suppliers and labour to complete planned upgrades and maintenance projects and this has prepared us well for the coming season,” said Mr. Hoare.
“Since last year’s crush, significant investment has been made in the cane rail network with $2 million invested into upgrading cane rail bridges alone. This has greatly improved the overall safety of the network, both for our loco drivers and the wider community.
“We have also invested $900k in refurbishing the No.7 Boiler and $350k in replacing our cane weighbridge PLC control system to improve reliability and reduce factory downtime in the mill feeding area”.
To enhance site safety, significant upgrades have been made to security throughout the Mulgrave Mill grounds. This includes upgrading security access to MSF Sugar’s Corporate Head Office which is co-located with Mulgrave Mill.
With overall weather conditions currently favourable for growers, attention will soon turn to the all-important Commercial Cane Sugar (CCS) results, which provide an estimate of the sugar yield from cane supplied to the Mill. The most dominant sugarcane variety for the Mulgrave growing region is Q208.