Like so many other businesses in the Northern Rivers, the local sugar industry has been hit hard by the recent flood event. And just like so many other businesses, Sunshine Sugar and the NSW cane growers are cleaning up and moving forward.
The northern-most mill at Condong on the Tweed River has had a small crew on site assessing damage and commencing clean-up for several days. This has been hindered by a lack of power and water, but the crew are forging ahead. Unfortunately, we had oil from the plant spread with the flood water into neighbouring properties and we will be looking for the earliest opportunity to assist in that clean up. The retail packing facility located in the Murwillumbah industrial estate has avoided damage and is already operating at normal production levels.
The Broadwater mill on the Richmond River is also without power and water. A small crew are assessing the damage sustained throughout the site, which includes the loss of plant and machinery.
Unfortunately, a portion of the raw sugar stored at Broadwater has been lost. This sugar is stored for use at our refinery for fulfillment of future customer orders. The crew are assessing how best to recover the viable sugar.
At Harwood on the Clarence River, both the sugar mill and refinery have been spared major damage, with the refinery and packing floor expected to be back in production within days.
Sunshine Sugar CEO, Mr Chris Connors, who is still trying to take stock of the situation across the three mills says; “Our industry has survived over a hundred years of both excellent cane growing seasons and devastating weather events. This flood event has caused significant damage across all of our growing and milling operations and will take a mammoth effort to get through – but we will.”
It is still too soon to know the full extent of damage to sugarcane crops. Growers are hoping for some fine weather and the continued recession of water that has inundated paddocks.
Mr Connors added that; “Most of the two-year old cane crop should be fine if it gets the right weather. Given its size and density it is a very resilient plant. Damage to young cane and soybean crops as well as farming and harvesting equipment and infrastructure is of concern. Our thoughts are with our growers as they work through their recovery activities.”
[7 March 2022]
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