Sugar Technology
On-line News

August 2007

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A mixed bag and relatively short - thanks to ISSCT taking up a lot of time.


A worker was killed in the 1996 explosion at Western Sugar’s Scottsbluff factory so you would expect the company to be much more careful. Nonetheless there was another explosion there at the end of July : luckily nobody was injured, let alone killed. The explosion and subsequent fire seem to have been confined to a dust collector in the packing plant.


Several companies have considered building a refinery in Lagos to compete with the Dangote refinery and now it looks as if one has decided to proceed on a site in Apapa, the dockland area of Lagos. The capacity is said to be 2 000 t/d [it is not clear if that is melt or RSO] and it claims to be the second largest refinery in sub-Saharan Africa [which would put it above the Hulett refinery in Durban]. It will have a 20 MW gas fired power station which will be an IPP selling surplus power.


The USDA recently issued a report which criticises the US sugar policy, stating that the policy has pushed the cost of production well above world prices. Although the US situation is different from that which led the WTO to find against Europe [the US does not dump on to the world market], one has to wonder if the long expected reform within the US is about to start. [Don’t forget too that NAFTA allows sugar in from Mexico from 2008.]


Following DuPont’s strong showing in last month’s news, Dow Chemical has announced that it intends to build a renewable polyethylene plant in Brazil using local bio-ethanol as the feedstock. The plant, which will be a joint venture with local company Crystalsev, will have a capacity of 350 000 t/a and is scheduled to come on stream in 2011.


Kakira Sugar Works, owned by the Madhvani family, has announced plans for a new sugarcane project in northern Uganda which will “at the beginning need a 40 000 ha nucleus estate”. We place the figure in quotation marks because the company also announced that the factory capacity in the first phase will be 2 500 tcd. Clearly a mismatch there.

Meanwhile, the recently privatised Kinyara Sugar Works [also in northern Uganda as it happens] has come to the end of the honeymoon : the company’s outgrowers have ‘gone on strike’ [meaning that they refuse to deliver their cane to the company].


The crop has finally started in the Ord River Valley, Northern Australia, following the agreement with the Korean owners and now a Chinese group has expressed interest in running the factory. In the end though, all of this is about economy of scale : the valley needs much more sugarcane to make the local industry viable.


Lawyers for the Sugar Association in the USA are seeking a court order allowing them to visit and film Tate and Lyle’s sucralose plant in McIntosh Alabama as part of the court case between the Association and McNeil Nutritionals. The case is all to do with marketing claims that the sweetener sucralose [sold as Splenda] is made from sugar.


Gay & Robinson has announced that it will build a bio-ethanol plant at its factory on Kauai, beating its rival Alexander & Baldwin [which has been implying for some time that it would do so at its Punene factory on Maui]. No capacity has been announced but the company does claim that the plant will meet more than 25% of the state’s gasoline demand.

Punene, on the other hand, seems to be going ahead with export cogeneration and has signed a deal with the local power company.


The Department of Agriculture in Rostov Region, Southern Russia, is claiming that Al Khaleej Sugar is planning a 15 000 tsd beet factory in the district. However, the wording seems to imply that the driving force is on the local side and not on the Dubai side : watch this space!


The Brazilian industry hit the headlines last month when the government raided a sugarcane estate in the Amazon basin and ‘released’ over a 1 000 workers that were putting in 13 hours a day.

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