Late season snag, but efforts to put crush back on track

BAD TIMING: Plane Creek Area Committee chairman Kevin Borg is disappointed the mill at Plane Creek has broken down this late in the season.
BAD TIMING: Plane Creek Area Committee chairman Kevin Borg is disappointed the mill at Plane Creek has broken down this late in the season. Canegrowers Mackay

PLANE Creek Area Committee chairman Kevin Borg said he had high praise for the efforts of Sucrogen management to put Plane Creek Mill operations back on track after a major breakdown in the No.3 boiler on Saturday, November 17.

Mr Borg, whose own cane farm is at Orkabie, south of Koumala, said the breakdown would impact on the previously aimed-for finish date of today.

"Heading to the finish line in a season is not a great time for the mill to break down but I have to give credit where it is due," he said.

"Sucrogen has pulled out all stops to continue crushing operating on No.1 and No.2 boilers - this is a first for Plane Creek Mill."

Mr Borg said while crushing in these circumstances was at a reduced rate, it at least allowed the cane to continue to be harvested and milled while repairs continued.

"We've been in constant contact with the mill and we're told the repairs are ongoing and that, at this stage (Monday, November 26), they are aiming to have the No.3 boiler commissioned and back up to speed by tomorrow (Tuesday, November 27).

Until Monday, the mill had crushed 93% of the Plane Creek area crop, which has been estimated at 1.23 million tonnes.

"One of the biggest impacts for growers in the area is the impact this will have on the finishing date.

"This is because the later the season goes, the higher the risk there will be that we will run into wet weather and this, in turn, adversely affects the development of next year's crop in any late cut cane (affecting the development of the ratoons)," he said.

Mr Borg said when the No.3 boiler was again operational and the crushing rate was back to normal, growers would be notified of a revised finishing date.

"Up until the breakdown, growers in the area had generally been happy with mill performance, which has achieved an availability (for crushing) of around 90% - we haven't seen that kind of availability for many years," Mr Borg said.

In other Plane Creek news, Mr Borg said significant rainfall was already impacting on the harvest in the southern end of the Plane Creek area, with some growers recently experiencing falls of up to around 125mm.

He said that from Koumala north, conditions remained ideal for harvesting with some growers now looking for showers of rain to get the 2013 crop "on its way".

Mr Borg said all members of the Plane Creek Productivity Services Limited were encouraged to attend this week's PCPSL annual general meeting, which will be at the Sarina Bowls Club today at 1.30pm.

"This is a good opportunity for everyone to get an update on the season, the year and a look at what's ahead in 2013," Mr Borg said.

Guest speaker will be BSES agricultural (mechanical) engineer Cam Whiteing.

Topics:  cane crush, cane season, plane creek mill, sugar crush



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