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Nothing outstanding this month but here is the best of what there was ...
The monsoon season officially ends at the end of September and, as everybody knows, this year’s was a dismal failure with only 77% of the normal rainfall. However, the weather struck central and southern India with a vengeance in early October bringing floods to many parts including sugar cane land. After initial concerns for sugar production, Karnataka at least was saying by the middle of the month that the rains had been good for its crop despite the disruption to harvesting.
Meanwhile, the government is proposing to permit another million tons of refined sugar it will allow in duty-free, doubling the total overnight. The original million is 80% committed already with 300 000 tons landed.
CSR has announced a rights issue as part of its preparation for selling off some or all of the sugar division : it wants to raise Aus$ 375 million to reduce debt.
One investor has already purchased shares in the sell off : in a surprise move, Mackay Sugar has sold its 25% stake in the joint venture sugar refinery at Mackay to its partner CSR for 8.77% of the sugar division in lieu of cash. That values the refinery as 35% of the total CSR sugar business.
Meanwhile the Maryborough bid for Tully rumbles on. Despite the Tully board rejecting the bid, some of the Tully shareholders have forced an extraordinary general meeting to discuss ‘the future’.
SAVOLA TURKEY NEXT?
Savola, the owners of the Jeddah and Sukhna refineries has announced that it and its partners have set up a joint venture with a local organisation to bid for 6 sugar beet factories currently being sold by the Turkish government. If successful, Savola would own 40% of the jv and the Central Union of Agricultural Credit Cooperatives would own another 40%, the remaining 20% belonging to another Saudi company called Nesma.
Meanwhile, Savola has confirmed that it is still on track to buy Tate and Lyle’s shares in the two refineries, a deal which has been long expected. The sale will be completed early in 2010.
Midroc al-Amoudi – a company from the stable of Mohammed al-Amoudi, an Ethiopian Saudi [or Saudi Ethiopian] billionaire – has announced that it is to spend $240 million on a 1 million t/annum sugar refinery in Aden. The plan would be to start increasing capacity by 50% shortly after commissioning : ambitious indeed.
It seems as if the Egyptian government may finally be going ahead with the development of the wadi off to the west of the Aswan dam that was first earmarked for development some 25 years ago – if not more. The state’s Food Industries Holding Company has said that it will invest in a US$ 200 million project to develop a ~17 000 ha estate there. In the same statement it also said that it was looking to develop a lot more cane land around Kom Ombo and to invest in more beet production in the delta.
ZIMBABWE BIO ENERGY
Further to our July News article, it looks as if Zimbabwe Bio Energy has solved one of its problems : the Government has agreed that 1 000 families can be moved off of the Nuanetsi Ranch land to make way for the proposed sugarcane ethanol project. The farmers are protesting against being moved off what they consider ‘their’ land : nothing new there then.
Moçambique has been criticised for not investing in export cogeneration projects at the country’s five sugar factories but instead planning to invest in yet another hydro-electricity station on the Zambezi, just 60 km downstream from Cahorra Bassa. The budget for the dam is $2 billion and it is expected to produce 1.3 GW of electricity so it is roughly the same price per unit output as a bagasse fired station but much further from the consumers.
OSHA DUST HAZARD REGULATIONS
The US’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] published its proposed regulations on explosive dust hazards in October. Amazing that such a country could be so far behind the rest of world on the issue. Interested parties have until mid January to comment but it is unclear how long it will be before the regulations take effect.
FREEZING CONDITIONS DISRUPT US BEET HARVEST
Beet harvesting in the Red River valley was halted in the middle of October as temperatures across North America’s mid west plummeted below -7 °C [a 90 year record low for that time of year] – so much for global warming. It isn’t that the region cannot cope with cold [after all it stays below -35 °C for most of winter], it is just the need to get the harvest complete and the beets stored before the severe cold.
USSC SHAREHOLDER SETTLEMENT
It looks as if the long running dispute between US Sugar and its employee shareholders [past and present] has been resolved. Under a preliminary settlement, approved by the judge in October, the company will pay $8.4 million to the group of 4 000 with a further 7.5 million if the deal to sell 73 000 acres to Florida State goes though.
Gay & Robinson on Kauai island has crushed its last cane – or perhaps one should say that it has made its last sugar from cane as there seem to be plans afoot for at least part of the plant. The cane was taken into the factory at the very end of October.
There has been talk of an ethanol plant on Kauai ever since G&R announced the planned closure and now Pacific West Energy, the local utility company, has confirmed it is planning such a plant with a 20 MW cogeneration facility.
Hugo Chavez’ government is planning to nationalise another two sugar mills as the country slides deeper into socialism. The Minister responsible is claiming that the ‘occupations’ are temporary.