QSL welcomes new Independent Director

Former auditor and partner at Ernst and Young, Mark Hayward (right), will join the QSL Board from 1 September 2021 as an Independent Director.

Mr Hayward’s appointment has been made in preparation for the retirement of QSL’s current Chairman Guy Cowan, who will step down after 14 years on the board at the conclusion of his current term on 31 December 2023.

Mr Cowan said the appointment had been made prior to his departure to support a smooth transition.

“QSL has a small but effective board which for some time has operated with one less director than allowed for under our constitution,” Mr Cowan said.

“This has enabled us to minimise interruption and leverage a valuable additional resource around the board table during the handover process.

“Mark has a similar skill set to me and as such will take over as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee following our September meeting, as well as sitting on the Trading Risk, and People and Remuneration Committees.”

Mr Hayward was a partner at global corporate advisory firm Ernst & Young for 31 years until 30 June 2020 and during this time served as auditor and adviser for companies with activities throughout Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Canada, the USA and South America. 

He has both international and domestic experience in numerous industry sectors, including agribusiness, where he has worked with the sugar, cotton and beef sectors.

In addition to his role on the QSL Board, Mr Hayward is a director of gas and oil exploration company Blue Energy Limited.

Under its constitution, the QSL Board can have a maximum of four Independent Directors. These directors serve three-year terms and are appointed by a Board Selection Committee comprised of four members, two of which are elected by QSL’s Mill Owner Members and two elected by QSL’s Grower Representative Members.

Sunshine Coast distillery mix things up with sugarcane

In a mixture of Queensland firsts, Woombye company, Cavu Distilling, are using sugarcane to create two new spirits.

Launching later this year, their Original Cane product, under their Sunshine & Sons brand, will use locally sourced sugarcane, Oakes & Sons farm, to create a sweet fermented sugarcane spirit.

The Original Cane spirit is perfect for tropical cocktails, distilled sugarcane spirits are commonly found in the bustling nightclubs of Brazil, known as Cachaa – the country’s national spirit.

And they’re also joining Queensland’s competitive rum market, becoming the state’s third largest rum producer behind Bundy and Beenleigh Rum.

Considerably smaller than the aforementioned, their rum comes with a point of difference; it is Australia’s first and only organic rum.

Branded separately as Nil Desperandum – Latin for do not despair – the rum’s organic molasses is sourced from the Millaquin Mill in Bundaberg and is scheduled for release next February.

Cavu co-founder Michael Conrad said that by working with organic sugarcane, they can produce a “better product”.

“Organic produce means that there has been care for the product during the whole process,” Mr Conrad said.

Stillage, or dunder, is the non-alcoholic liquid left in a pot after the run of molasses, it contains dead yeast cells that work as excellent animal nutrition.
 Stillage, or dunder, is the non-alcoholic liquid left in a pot after the run of molasses, it contains dead yeast cells that work as excellent animal

“Everything is done to take care of the product and show it off in its best light.”

“If you take the best possible product, being organic molasses over an industrial version, and apply the same love and care you’re going to have a better product and the end of the day.”

Paddock to pint, back to paddock

Mr Conrad the decision to work with sugarcane was a natural one for the company.

“It’s our ethos to work with local produce and Queensland is one of the top ten sugar producers in the world,” Mr Conrad said.

“These two projects give us a chance to work with local producers to create something unique and exciting.”

Mr Conrad, who has six decades of fine dining experience, said that where they can the company will minimise waste.

Molasses from the organic rum is being put back into agriculture, providing their mineral rich stillage as “top shelf” cattle feed.

“I’ve always been a big believer of nose to tail, and we try and apply that to waste,” he said.

“Weather it’s into fertilizer or into cattle feed, the waste can be put back into the paddocks to create a happy circle of supply.”

Stillage, or dunder, is the non-alcoholic liquid left in a pot after the run of molasses, it contains dead yeast cells that work as excellent animal nutrition.

Wilmar Sugar Australia postpones Invicta Centenary community celebrations

Wilmar Sugar Australia has postponed its Invicta Centenary community celebrations this Friday due to the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19.

Burdekin Regional Operations manager Paul Turnbull said the decision to defer the community celebrations until later in the year was not made lightly.

“We’re all very disappointed that we can’t celebrate the milestone with the Giru community next week but our number one priority must be to protect the health and safety of our people,” Mr Turnbull said.

“As the Burdekin’s largest sugar mill, we have a responsibility to the region’s entire sugar industry to do what we can to mitigate against potential risks to our operations.

“When we started our planning more than a year ago, we had hoped that we would not still be dealing with COVID outbreaks and lockdowns by this time.

“As much as we were looking forward to the celebrations, our core business is crushing cane and we can’t jeopardise that.”

Mr Turnbull said Invicta’s 100th birthday would still be celebrated next week, albeit more quietly than originally planned, with a centenary lunch for employees on Thursday, August 12.

The community celebrations have been postponed until October.

Sugar giant charged with industrial manslaughter after worker electrocuted in Far North Queensland

Charges have been laid against one of the country’s biggest sugar millers after a worker was electrocuted on the job in Far North Queensland two years ago.

Brett Quinn was killed while dogging for a crane that contacted, or came in close proximity to, overhead power lines while working on a cane rail system at Little Mulgrave, near Gordonvale, south of Cairns in 2019. 

In a statement, Workplace Health and Safety Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle said he had charged MSF Sugar Pty Ltd with industrial manslaughter under the Electrical Safety Act over the incident.

It’s the first time a company has faced such a charge since the act was introduced four years ago.

The maximum penalty carries a $10 million fine.

MSF has also been charged with breaching an electrical safety duty and exposing multiple workers to a risk of serious injury or death over the same incident — a charge that carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $1.5 million.

The small community of Gordonvale, where Mr Quinn lived, was left reeling after the incident.

He was a second-generation worker for MSF.

A fundraising page set up shortly after his death described him as a “hard worker with a fondness for a good joke”.

Union welcomes charge

MSF Sugar declined to comment given the matter was before the courts.

However, the union representing electrical workers has welcomed the industrial manslaughter charge.

Electrical Trades Union far northern organiser Robert Hill said the charge should send a message to all employers, particularly those in agriculture.

“Unfortunately, workers keep getting hurt and not returning home from work so we fully support the department’s prosecution and if people are found to be wanting, they deserve to be prosecuted through the full strength of the law,” Mr Hill said.

He said the agricultural industry saw more electrical incidents than any other sector in any given year.

“The agriculture sector is a huge concern to those in the electrical industry, given the number of incidences and we really need to keep that front of mind,” he said.”We are hoping the industry changes and takes it seriously because too many workers are being hurt.”

The matter will be mentioned at the Cairns Magistrates Court next month.

No other charges are expected to be laid over the incident.

Wilmar Sugar’s first shipment departs Mackay

The first raw sugar of the 2021 growing season has been shipped out of the Port of Mackay with many local cane growers eagerly watching on as raw sugar produced at their local mill headed south.

Wilmar’s Plane Creek grower marketing consultant, Angus McKerrow and Mackay Sugar Terminal mechanical supervisor, Hamish Beveridge said the Mackay port tour was organised to provide cane growers throughout the region with insight into the sugar supply chain from the farm to the supermarket shelf.

The raw sugar was loaded into the MV Mareeba bulk carrier and destined for Sugar Australia’s Yarraville Refinery in Melbourne where it will be processed into a variety of products for CSR Sugar and Australian food and beverage customers.

Mr McKerrow said nine growers from the Plane Creek region had attended the port tour and were excited to see the raw sugar from their local mills being loaded onto the ship.

“It was the first shipment for the 2021 season, so it was also about growers being present for that milestone: the first of the new season sugar to leave the region.”

Mr McKerrow said the growers got an appreciation for the processes around storing and loading sugar, and the procedures around quality sampling.

“The logistics of handling sugar from delivery, through to storage and loading are quite complex, and there are a lot of controls in place to maintain the quality of that sugar from port to port,” he said.

“Many thanks goes to Mackay Terminal Manager Mike Panke and Hamish Beveridge for facilitating such a great tour.”

The raw sugar departed Mackay Port on July 20 and was produced at Wilmar’s Plane Creek and Proserpine mills.

Webinar: Enhanced-efficiency nitrogen fertilisers: Potential benefits and selection of products for sugarcane

Please join us as we hear from Dr Weijin Wang as he presents research findings of the project, Smart Blending of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers (EEFs) to maximise sugarcane profitability.

To mitigate N loss risks from the conventional urea, many improved N fertiliser formulations known as enhanced-efficiency fertilisers (EEFs) have been developed and tested in various farming systems in the world. Polymer-coated urea (PCU) or controlled-release fertiliser (CRF) can extend N supply for crops after application into soil by controlling N release through an insoluble but permeable coating material, thereby better matching fertiliser N supply with plant N uptake. Coating or impregnating urea with a nitrification inhibitor can suppress the microbial production of nitrate in soil and thus reduce nitrate loss. While EEFs can potentially improve fertiliser N use efficiency by crops and reduce N losses into the environment, they do not always lead to higher yield. Such uncertainty in combination with their higher costs can cause confusion to growers as to whether EEFs should be used or not.

Sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, Sugar Research Australia, Queensland Government and industry partners, field trials were conducted at Bundaberg, Mackay, Ingham, Tully and Innisfail over three cropping seasons from 2016 to 2019.

In this webinar, the project leader Dr Weijin Wang from the Department of Environment and Science will share findings from these trials, his views on EEFs in terms of their agronomic, economic and environmental benefits, and selection of products for cane farming.

Weijin obtained his PhD from the University of Melbourne 20 years ago and since then has been serving in Queensland Government as a soil biochemist, currently in the Department of Environment and Science (DES). With more than 100 peer reviewed publications, he also holds adjunct academic positions in Griffith University and UQ. He has led several projects in the last 20 years on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling and management, including carbon sequestration and nitrous oxide emissions mitigation. In particular, he has been collaborating with various research, development and extension organisations in investigating practicable farm management strategies to increase fertiliser nitrogen use efficiency and minimise nitrogen losses into the environment. These include a recently completed project in the More Profit from Nitrogen program, which looked into the potential environmental and agronomic benefits of enhanced-efficiency nitrogen fertilisers in Queensland sugarcane farming systems.  In today’s webinar, Weijin will report on the findings from this project as well as some outputs from previous projects.

This project was supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, Sugar Research Australia, Queensland Government, with financial contribution from ICL Specialty Fertilisers, Incitec Pivot Ltd., Herbert Cane Productivity Services Ltd. (HCPSL) and Farmacist Pty Ltd.

Click here to join on the day.