The Broadwater Sugar Mill sits on the banks of the Richmond River and has been crushing cane since 1881.
The Broadwater Sugar Mill sits on the banks of the Richmond River and has been crushing cane since 1881.

Sunshine Sugar gets ready to crush and burn in Broadwater

THE NSW cane harvest and crushing season is starting across the Northern Rivers milling areas, with an expected 1.7m tonnes of sugar cane to be harvested between June and November.

The canefires near Broadwater are expected to start this Saturday, with the sugar mill processing from June 22.

The Sunshine Sugar mill at Condong and hardwood, on the Tweed and the Clarence, respectively, already started on the first week of June.

Sunshine Sugar CEO Chris Connors said the Broadwater mill is looking at processing 540,000 to 550,000 tons of sugar.

“This is very similar to last season, which is a lot better than the intial projections we had when the drought was in place and we had the fires, and then another flood,” he said.

Mr Connors said the recent bushfires affected a small portion of sugarcane plantations near Broadwater.

“It was south of Broadwater, but it was only very minor,” he said.

“The whole seasonal conditions back late last year and early this year were very negative, but since then we’ve had some good rains at the right time, and good growing conditions.”

Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors, at the Broadwater mill.
Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors, at the Broadwater mill.

The executive said that while the amount projected to be produced this year is not ideal, is better than what they were expecting.

“We are going to end up with somewhere between 1.6 to 1.7 million tons across all three mills ... our sustainability really required two million tons, so we gotta get back there,” he explained.

“If we want to maintain the market we’ve got and not have to import raw sugar into the refinery, then we need two million tons of cane.

“If we get good growing conditions, I can see that happening next season.”

While the crushing season offer the chance to employ more people, most of them are kept by the company throughout the maintenance season.

One of the main operational changes last year was a new fleet of Mercedes Benz trucks hauling cane from farms to the factories.

“Last season we had some very good outcomes in efficiency, but also from an environmental and community point of view, so we are now going to introduce them to all three locations,” he said.

Sunshine Sugar has a new fleet of trucks hauling cane from farms to the factories, offering safety features such as automated emergency brake feature, which can automatically initiate braking near pedestrians.
Sunshine Sugar has a new fleet of trucks hauling cane from farms to the factories, offering safety features such as automated emergency brake feature, which can automatically initiate braking near pedestrians.

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