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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Mystery investor rescues Mossman cane industry

THE Mossman cane-growing community received a last-minute reprieve as a mysterious investor intervened to save the local mill from imminent liquidation.

Just hours before the company was slated for liquidation, the administrator informed grower and mill representatives of a potential investor willing to inject funds alongside energy company Clever Power.

CANEGROWERS Mossman Chairman Matt Watson recounted the relief felt upon hearing the news.

“We were told a private investor was willing to put money on the table to save the mill,” he said.

“Clever Power and the investor would take on the mill and guarantee crushing for at least the next four seasons as they worked to improve and increase production and make the mill more stable before looking to diversify into value-adding opportunities in the energy field.”

Initial apprehensions arose when the investor hesitated, casting doubts on the outcome however, hope was restored when the administrator revealed a potential partnership with Clever Power during a crucial creditors’ meeting.

CANEGROWERS persisted in exploring solutions, even engaging with the Community Cabinet in Cairns to secure government funding for the mill.

“That was the first time we had confirmed by the Premier that there was some government funding available to a third-party entity or investor for the mill,” Mr Watson said.

The backing of Douglas Shire Council and the Douglas Chamber of Commerce further bolstered efforts to save the industry, culminating in a rally in Cairns to highlight the gravity of the situation.

“We all knew we were staring down the barrel of the end of the sugarcane industry in Mossman and all the consequences that would flow from that,” Mr Watson continued.

“So, to have confirmed at the eleventh hour that someone has stepped forward to back the future of the industry, with a view to making the mill a profitable enterprise for the long term, it was just an amazing outcome for the industry and the community.”

Clever Power’s representatives outlined plans to prioritise sugar crystal production and restore profitability over the next four years.

“They sound like a very forward-thinking company, and they have big plans for the mill eventually, but only if those plans prove viable,” Mr Watson said.

“They have assured us that they are here to work with growers and the industry – their focus, first and foremost, will be on getting the mill operating.

“They are determined to make the mill profitable and one of the ways they plan do that is by increasing cane throughput.”

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: AI exposes hidden roads threatening rainforests and Coghlan seeks another term at Cairns Regional Council.

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