Sugar exports continue despite Yasi

Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) says its terminals continue to export sugar, albeit at lower levels, despite damage incurred by Cyclone Yasi

Sugar exports continue despite Yasi
Sugar exports continue despite Yasi

By Anna Game-Lopata | February 10, 2011

Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) says its terminals continue to export sugar, albeit at lower levels, despite damage incurred by Cyclone Yasi,

The Port of Lucinda, which accounted for 591,855 tonnes of sugar trade in the 2009-2010 financial year, is predominantly a sugar export operation under the jurisdiction
of the Port of Townsville.

was the worst hit by the storm
and the
full extent of the damage still can’t be fully assessed due to flood waters and blocked roads.

In addition, the next peak sugar season "crush" doesn’t kick in until mid year.

Port of Townsville Limited chief executive officer Barry Holden confirms damage to the Port of Lucinda will be assessed "as priority demand allows".

Access problems have also prevented QSL from assessing damage to the Lucinda terminal.

However, the company says QSL-operated terminals at Cairns, Mackay and Bundaberg have incurred very little damage.

"Terminals at Mourilyan and Townsville have suffered more damage but it is not major and QSL does not expect any interruptions to its export program," a QSL spokesperson tells SupplyChain Review.

"All QSL staff are safe and power is back on in Mackay.

"We are ensuring our people are well supported this week and able to spend time away from work to assess and, where possible, clean up damage suffered personally."

It is also too early for QSL to to fully assess how the event will impact on next season’s sugar volumes but it is anticipated that the 2011 crop will be significantly reduced.

"We will be working closely with industry stakeholders over the coming months in relation to production forecasts for the 2011 season," the spokesperson says.

Prior to the floods and cyclone, QSL forecast the export of 3 million tonnes from its six ports in North Queensland.

However the impact of the has reduced this figure to an estimated 2.2 million tonnes.

"This is a devastating event for many areas, and our hearts are with those people who have suffered losses as a result of the cyclone,"
the spokesperson says.

In a 2010 season update QSL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Neil Taylor admits the entire industry faces ongoing challenges as it moves into the 2011 season.

"QSL has worked hard to reduce the cashflow impact to millers and growers after a 25 per cent drop in volume, while also preserving the integrity of Queensland’s reputation as a reliable supplier of high quality sugar," Taylor says.

"Our focus now is on helping mills to understand options for managing the revenue impacts, and working constructively with the industry to identify ways to improve pooling systems and processes for the future.

"Mills can opt to take revenue impacts this season or QSL is offering financing to manage the impact across several seasons. This isn’t being forced on mills, but is an option for them to consider," Taylor says.

"The proposed financing solution gives millers the opportunity to still receive all revenues associated with this season and manage this unique situation over a number of seasons."

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