The commencement of the 2020 Isis Central Sugar Mill crushing season is still to be determined.
Isis Mill Chief Executive John Gorringe said the start date will be in July, but a final commencement date was still under discussion with grower and industry representatives.
Mr Gorringe said the estimated tonnage for the 2020 crop of around 837,000 tonnes was disappointing but is a result of limited rainfall which prompted a poor growing season.
This year’s crop estimate is about 130,000 tonnes, down on the 2019 crop which saw 970,000 tonnes of cane through the mill’s rollers.
The results achieved in 2019 and those anticipated for the current crush are well down on the 1.2 million crop processed in 2018.
He said rainfall had been very patchy across the region.
Mr Gorringe acknowledged that the availability of free water from Paradise Dam during the current lowering of the dam spillway had been useful to local agricultural pursuits.
“That free water access is scheduled to finish next Monday at noon,” he said.
On the positive side, a later start to the 2020 crushing season will allow the Isis Mill to press ahead with the construction of its $15 million 39-kilometre rail line expansion between Cordalba and Wallaville.
Mr Gorringe said that while significant work still needed to be done it was hoped to be finalised in time for the crushing start.
Work on the project, which will provide railway access to the Isis Mill from sugar cane farms in the Wallaville and Gin Gin areas, commenced in November following the completion of the 2019 crushing season.
Growers in the Gin Gin area provide around 400,000 tonnes of cane to the Isis Central Sugar Mill.
Mr Gorringe said the COVID-19 pandemic had provided some challenges in deploying the mill workforce but through well-implemented practices and the co-operation of employees the construction work had been able to progress.
The Isis Mill’s chief field officer Paul Nicol said the project was delivering many positives for business, the local community and the region.
“Following the early finish to the 2019 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.
Mayor Jack Dempsey visited the rail line extension project this week and was impressed with the scale of the project.
“In addition to the efficiencies it will produce for the mill, the impact it will have on road safety through the reduction of road transport to the mill will be significant,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Rail transport will halve an 80km round road trip, which is a significant economic benefit for the mill and growers.”
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