On The Land

11 May, 2024

Katter pitches mill fix amid calls for State help

A PROPOSAL to save and increase the viability of the beleaguered Mossman Mill has been pitched to local growers by Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter.

Katter pitches mill fix amid calls for State help - feature photo

The mill was placed in administration in March, putting local sugarcane growers in a dire situation with nowhere to send their harvested crop which will cost them millions of dollars.

The growers want the mill to stay open for one more season so this year’s crop can be harvested, but they might have to send their cane to the Mulgrave Mill instead which would cost them $30 a tonne.

Nearly 5200 people have also signed an online parliamentary petition calling on the State Government to “do all in its power” to keep the mill going for one final harvest. 

To date, the government has not advised it will do any more than provide the $12.1 million Mossman Region Transition Program which will be aimed at helping the 500-strong workforce to find new jobs, access upskilling or training as well as counselling services.

Mr Katter said he had been advised that thee had been years of insecurity within the mill, the quality of cane being supplied to the crusher was dwindling, and additional supply to boost the viability of returns and byproducts was required.

Following a meeting with local grower and Australian Cane Farmers Association chair Jack Murday, Mr Katter pitched his long-term vision of building water infrastructure in the Mt Molloy-Mt Carbine region – off the Mitchell River – to expand cane production around Maryfarms.

Mr Katter said this would include a weir, to irrigate up to 10,000ha of cane on soil described by Mr Murday as “fertile for sugar”.

Next, a $25 million front-end processing mill would be built to crush the crop into juice, which would then be transported to Mossman Mill via a $23 million pipeline.

Mr Katter said the expanded Maryfarms production could result in up to an additional million tonnes of cane supply into Mossman, and not only boost the mill’s sugar production, but also build a case for byproducts such as ethanol and electricity for which the State Government had previously offered funding.

Mr Katter noted that about 10,000ha of cane created about 10,000L of ethanol.

“This is fight of North Queenslanders versus Brisbane, the major parties – the ones that destroyed our farming and continue to do so,” he said.

“If the people of North Queensland vote for the voice of North Queensland – the KAP – we’ll get the balance of power and we’ll see this weir, pipeline and frontend mill built.

“We’re the only party fighting for ethanol – so that you only have to pay $1.29 per litre (for petrol) like they do in Brazil, but also so our cane farmers get a little extra income.”

In the short-term, Mr Katter said he had been advised Mossman growers would be sending this year’s produce to the Mulgrave Mill at $30 per tonne to salvage some returns.

He said he was aware of the $12 million transitional fund announced by the State Government, but he was hopeful of saving the mill and would be working with Mr Murday, employees and prospective investors on operational solutions.


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