ON TRACK: The Proserpine Mill is scheduled to begin crushing.
ON TRACK: The Proserpine Mill is scheduled to begin crushing. Matthew Newton

Proserpine the last mill to begin crushing

PROSERPINE Mill is set to start crushing Tuesday morning, July 4.

It is the last of the Mackay region mills to fire up, all the others started their crushing season in June.

Wilmar Sugar's Mackay regional operations manager Craig Muddle said cane will be harvested ready for the start of operations. "We expect to have about 9,000 tonnes harvested and ready for the first cane to be crushed at 10am.

"Proserpine Mill is expected to crush 1.37 million tonnes this year, which is about 430,000 tonnes down on earlier estimates due to the effects of Cyclone Debbie. Most of the work following Cyclone Debbie related to replacing and repairing water-damaged equipment.

"The amount of work needed was equivalent to about two maintenance seasons' worth, and the team onsite did a fantastic job to get everything finished on time. With time allowed for wet weather, we expect to finish crushing on October 27."

Wilmar's other mill in the region, Plane Creek in Sarina, started crushing on June 20. They had to shut the mill down one day last week. Mr Muddle said the issue had now been fixed.

"Plane Creek Mill is now settling down after a few commissioning issues early on. We undertook a planned stoppage at Plane Creek on Thursday to enable work crews to replace a faulty valve in our continuous pan.

"The valve had been stuck closed, forcing us to reduce our crushing rate to around 350 tonnes an hour. The issue is now fully resolved and our crushing rate increased over the weekend.

"We're now matching the harvesting sector rate and the mill is fully capable of reaching our target of 450 tonnes an hour once we have the cane supply.

"We're confident we've done enough work on the factory over the maintenance season to achieve good reliability for the 2017 crush."