Wilmar Sugar executive general manager for North Queensland John Pratt said the sugarcane industry would push through the COVID-19 crisis.
Wilmar Sugar executive general manager for North Queensland John Pratt said the sugarcane industry would push through the COVID-19 crisis.

CRUSH: Update given on Prossie start date, total expected

THE Proserpine crush season now has a start date, with crop estimates for the year up slightly from last.

Crushing operations are scheduled to commence in Proserpine Mill on June 30, with an estimated 1.62 million tonnes to be crushed this year.

This number is slightly up from the 1.55 million tonnes of sugarcane and more than 220,000 tonnes of raw sugar the mill processed last year.

Wilmar Sugar executive general manager for North Queensland John Pratt said the coronavirus pandemic had caused "a level of uncertainty in the community" and created new challenges for the industry.

However, he was confident the sugarcane industry would overcome the adversity and would continue to move towards the crush season, albeit with new measures in place.

"We are optimistic about our ability to continue operating through this crisis and are pressing ahead with preparations for the upcoming crush," he said.

An aerial shot of Wilmar's Proserpine Mill.
An aerial shot of Wilmar's Proserpine Mill.

"We're continuing with our maintenance season program, albeit with some changes due to the COVID-19 threat."

Across North Queensland, Proserpine will be the last mill to start crushing this season with the Burdekin's Inkerman Mill due to begin on June 2 and the Kalamia, Invicta and Pioneer mills on June 9.

The Herbert Mill will commence on June 16 and Plane Creek on June 23.

This year's total crop estimates across all mill locations is 15.07 million tonnes - slightly up on last year's total throughput of 14.78 million tonnes, with no signs of COVID-19 impacting that number.

Mr Pratt said the Federal Government had not officially declared the sugarcane industry an essential service if coronavirus lockdowns were to become more severe.

But he expected its connective nature to many other industries, which have been deemed essential, to allow it to continue through any lockdown measures.

"Both the federal and state governments have made it clear that a number of key industries and their supply chains are essential in supporting the community and the economy through the current public health emergency," he said.

"Food, fuel, energy and health are being given priority along with agriculture and manufacturing.

"As a producer of raw sugar, electricity, ethanol, fertiliser and stockfeed, we play a key role in the supply chains for all of these essential industries."


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