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Rains set back Wilmar crushing start

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RAIN towards the end of May has resulted in plans to commence crushing the 2022 sugar crop at all four of Wilmar’s Burdekin sugar mills to be put back. 

It was originally proposed that crushing would begin on Tuesday, June 7, but the heavy rain has resulted in the start being delayed to at least June 14 or later. 

The company has locked in their pre-season Burdekin crop estimate at 7.94 million tonnes, which is slightly higher than last year’s total of 7.88 million tonnes.

Inkerman Mill Production Superintendent, Chris Scovazzi revealed that Inkerman Mill was now on track to start the season on Tuesday, June 14 with Wilmar’s plan to begin crushing at all four Burdekin mills on that date. He said a projected finish to the season was in the third week of November, weather and performance dependent.

Mr Scovazzi said they had started their pre- season commissioning programs in the first week of May in a process designed to ensure a smooth start to crushing operations and included their annual steam trials. “Inkerman Mill ran its first steam trial on May 24,” he said. “The second Inkerman steam trial is planned for Thursday, June 2.”

The Mill’s Production Superintendent said Wilmar was spending $8.7 million on capital projects and $5.6 million on maintenance at Inkerman Mill this year. “We’re spending $3 million on a major remedial works for Inkerman Mill’s boiler station to address failures that occurred during the 2021 crush,” he said. “We are also well advanced in our planning for a major rebuild of Boiler One ahead of the 2023 season,” in a major capital project that will cost $10.5 million.

Mr Scovazzi said major capital projects for Inkerman Mill ahead of the 2022 crush included Boiler one front wall top buck stay works and primary super heater loops replacement – $900,000. Work has been completed and they were now into commissioning; Boiler three convection bank tube replacement – $900,000. Work on this project had been completed and they were now into commissioning. Major upgrade of B-side feeding station to improve tipping station reliability – $1.1 million. Work was on track, and they would complete a lot of the pre-season commissioning before the start of crush to prove the functionality. 

This project will go a long way to increase reliability on B side and reduce factory interruptions,” he said. “We will be completing an A- side upgrade ahead of the 2023 season.” 

Mr Scovazzi also said major maintenance projects for Inkerman Mill included – Boiler inspections and hydrostatic pressure testing of boiler tubing; All boiler furnace grate and refractory; Significant work on Boiler one (which caused most of the disruptions to crushing last season); Boiler two Iris testing of tube work; Bagasse conveyor gearbox overhauls; Conveyor belt replacements; Feed water monitoring and sampling.