Tuesday, 1 May 2012

$42m plans for Tablelands sugar mill

Natalie Dixon
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
© The Cairns Post

 Sweetener: Plans to upgrade the Tableland Mill will make it capable of crushing 900,000 tonnes a season.

THAI-owned MSF Sugar is on the cusp of a $42 million investment in the Tableland Mill, designed to boost capacity and add an annual $15 million to the local economy.

The company has long-term plans to upgrade the mill so it is capable of crushing 900,000 tonnes a season, up from the current 630,000 tonnes and is calling for growers to commit to supply it with more cane.

The upgrade also includes plans to allow syrup to be turned into raw sugar on site, instead of being taken to South Johnstone or Mulgrave.

MSF Sugar chief executive Mike Barry said the company was in the middle of a $2 million upgrade at the mill but was asking growers to give a firm commitment that they will supply enough cane to keep up with the expected capacity before it starts the second stage.

Newspaper ads have been placed calling for expressions of interest to supply cane to the Tableland Mill and MSF will hold forums with peak body Canegrowers in the region. "We are hoping to increase capacity by about 100,000 tonnes of cane each year for the next few years," he said. "Once we can confirm there is an appetite among the growers we will get stuck in with our proposed nvestment.  "In the past growers have been interested but the mill’s capacity was the problem, when we took over in April last year we decided that wouldn’t be an issue. 

Mr Barry said the proposal would add an extra 200,000 tonnes of sugar which was selling for $500 per tonne. "This investment could add an extra $15 million to the Tableland’s economy if growers get on board."

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