Crush begins as Proserpine braces for big season
STEAM was flowing from the Proserpine Mill this morning marking the first day of the 2020 crushing season.
The season's start was delayed a day because of the weather, but Mackay regional operations manager Craig Muddle said the first cane was crushed about 12.40pm today.
"Field conditions were too wet for harvesting on Monday, but the harvesting crews were able to supply enough cane for us to get going today," he said.
"There was a bit more rain around last night, but the weather's cleared up now and we're anticipating good cane supply tomorrow."
Mr Muddle said the factory was running well, with no major issues so far and the first sugar set to go up the belt tomorrow.
It was predicted the mill would process about 1.62 million tonnes of sugarcane this season and produce about 230,000 tonnes of raw sugar.
In 2019, the mill processed a total of 1.55 million tonnes of sugarcane and more than 220,000 tonnes of raw sugar.
The Proserpine Mill was the last of Wilmar's eight factories to start up for 2020 despite other mills across the region having to push their crush date back.
Mr Muddle said Wilmar's Proserpine workforce had completed a large number of capital and maintenance projects ahead of this year's crush despite the additional challenges COVID-19 posed.
"As a business, we responded to the COVID threat by putting a lot measures in place to keep our people safe and our industry running," he said.
"Our Proserpine employees did a fantastic job of delivering this year's works program against a backdrop of great uncertainty."
With the crush under way, residents were also advised to keep an eye out for cane trains.
Proserpine cane supply manager Tony Marino said people should approach all cane rail crossings with caution.
"Our cane trains can't come to a quick stop and they can't swerve. Our message to motorists is clear: please use your train brain," he said.
"That means to always be on the lookout for cane trains, to obey all signs and signals at cane railway crossings, and to always give way to oncoming cane trains."