The construction of a 39km cane rail extension from Cordalba to Wallaville by Isis Central Sugar Mill is on track for completion by the 2020 crushing start.
The $15 million project is employing about 70 of the Mill’s workforce and providing work for local contractors.
While the Isis Central Sugar Mill is investing heavily in this new infrastructure, funds have also been awarded by the Federal Government.
Work on the project, which will provide railway access to the Mill from sugar cane farms in the Wallaville and Gin Gin areas, commenced in November following the completion of the 2019 crushing season.
The Mill’s chief field officer Paul Nicol said the project was delivering many positives for the business, the local community and the region.
“Following the early finish to the crushing, this project has ensured ongoing employment for a large portion of the mill workforce with employees from almost every section of the mill’s operation involved in some way,” he said.
“A major plus is the fact that our staff have engaged in constructing these cane railways in the past and that experience is invaluable. A good crew can lay about a kilometre of line a day.”
Isis Mill cane rail reduces heavy vehicle movements
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey visited the Isis Mill cane rail site recently and said the project was one of tremendous regional importance.
“In addition to the efficiencies it will produce for the mill, the impact it will have on road safety will be significant,” he said.
“Once completed, the tramline will eliminate an estimated 6000 heavy vehicle movements and reduce an estimated 21,000 heavy vehicle movements currently incurred in transporting cane from these locations to the mill each year.
“Rail transport will also cut an 80km round road trip in half, which is a significant economic benefit.”
Mayor Dempsey said Council had been pleased to assist the Isis Central Sugar Mill through the planning and approvals process.
Mr Nicol agreed, saying Bundaberg Regional Council had been instrumental in assisting with the project.
“Council’s planning department organised a Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) which certainly assisted in expediting the required approvals to progress the expansion,” he said.
Mr Nicol said that against popular trend, the Mill was financially investing in infrastructure to expand its involvement in the sugar industry and enhance the viability of the industry locally.
He said construction of the line was proceeding at numerous points along its planned 39km route, with a hope that they will all eventually join into the completed line in time for the 2020 crushing.
“The termination of the line at Wallaville will provide access to numerous growers including the rapidly expanding cane farm holdings operated by Greensill Farms,” he said.
“The Greensill farms alone are anticipated to supply around 100,000 tonnes of cane to the mill.”
Gayndah cane trial plots successful
Looking to longer term plans for expansion of the Isis Mill’s cane supply area it’s interesting to note that 16km of this new tramline is common to any future expansion into the Gayndah area.
Mr Nicol reaffirmed that Isis Mill was seriously contemplating sourcing cane from Gayndah.
“We have small trial plots which have been successful and importantly have proved to be resilient to frosts in the area. The Mill also has tenure of the former rail corridors near the trial sites so transport would not be a problem,” he said.
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