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24 June, 2021

The future looks sweet

I’VE heard it said that when the steam starts pumping from the local sugar mill, then there is a definite energy boost for the local economy. As Mary Poppins once sang ‘A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’.


Well in the last week or two, Mossman Mill has fired up its main boilers, conducted steaming trials and is now underway for season 2021.

With the positivity of rallying world sugar prices and the already buoyant tourist season for areas like Port Douglas, Mossman and the Daintree, it suggests that the future should taste very sweet.

Heavy rains back in April may well have dampened the prospects of a good season, but the potential grey outlook was short lived and it appears that the crop handled this very well.

This is great news for the cane growers who, in 2019, regained control of the Mossman Mill, becoming the first local grower group in Australia to buy back a sugar mill. About 110 growers from Mossman and the Tablelands formed a cooperative, Far Northern Milling Company Pty Ltd, to buy back the mill from Mackay Sugar.

Apart from normal maintenance, during the off-season, the period was used to do significant work on the cooling towers and install a new controller system for the “pan stage” of the milling process. The new equipment will deliver computer-controlled automation to the operation.

For those more technically curious, the pan stage is an important part of the process of transforming sugar cane into sugar. It is where the cane juice, now purified and reduced to syrup, is made into sugar crystals. This occurs through a number of stages.

For the statisticians amongst us, barring any unforeseen weather events or major technical issues, the total tonnage forecast to be crushed at the Mossman Mill in 2021 is 685 thousand tonnes, which is pleasingly about 40 thousand tonnes more than was crushed in 2020. This will certainly put icing on the cake!

The 2021 crush is expected to be completed in mid to late October, so we wish everyone involved a successful and safe sugar cane season.

That’s enough sweetness from me for one week, so for now this is Gazza signing out!

You can catch up with Gazza each weekday afternoon between 4 – 7 pm on 90.9 FAB FM in Port Douglas

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