Sugar Technology
On-line News

December 2012

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Quite an interesting set of news :


The sugar world is a strange place. ISO is the guardian of the International Sugar Agreement and has 86 member states representing about 95% of the worlds sugar exports. Prominent among those are the 27 countries of the EU which has an active objection to the military regime in Fiji. Nonetheless, last month Fiji's prime minister Commodore Bainimarama was unanimously elected Chairman of ISO.


This year does not look as good as last in Germany with 2 million tons less in beet terms, mainly due to a 6% reduction in average yield. Luckily the average content of 18.3% is slightly up on last year’s 18.0%.


The French crop is also expected to be down but no firm data seems to have been released. In this case the cause appears to be a particularly wet autumn with the beet growing regions receiving an extra 45 mm of rain in October when compared to the long term mean.


[yes, we had to look it up on a map too] Mauritania in the far west of Africa has announced a major sugar estate project involving 18 000 ha of land and estimated to cost $430 million. This is a country with a per capita GDP of about $2 000 per annum and a climate described by the CIA as ‘desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty’.


A third Chinese sugar mill has opened in Mali. This one is called N-Sukala and it seems to be modelled on the existing two [it certainly has the same ownership] at Dougabougou [1,654 ha and 500 tcd] and at Siribala [3,520 ha and 2000 tcd.


Well you cannot say that Nigeria doesn’t have grand plans : it has said that it will now start implementing its ‘Sugar Master Plan’ which has the objective of creating 117,181 jobs [we quote]. There is no information about the capacities of the proposed facilities but the claim is that there will be 411 MW of installed capacity. Watch this space.

Meanwhile Flour Mills of Nigeria has stated that it will start production trials at its new Lagos refinery this month.


The ESC is claiming that it created job opportunities for 28 000 people in the last fiscal year, quoting the Tendaho, Beles, Kuraz and Wolkite projects.


Last month we told you about a threat from the Zimbabwean government to the long term future of its sugar industry by demanding that over 50% of its shares must be held by ‘indigenous people’. Tongaat Hulett has countered that and has said that it will no longer invest in expansions at Triangle of Hippo Valley. The company’s problem is that the two estates are very important to the overall group profits.


TSB’s Massingir project is being talked up again with a visit to the location by the President of Moçambique. The current data is that the project, which involves a gross area of 37 000 ha, will cost $740 million and go into production in 2016.


It seems that the government has given up on ever satisfying some of the Sri Lankan sugar demand : it as granted India’s Renuka Sugars a license to build a 2000 t/d RSO refinery in a southern port. The refinery will be designed to expand to 3000 t/d and investment numbers of $220 million are being bounced around whilst the company is claiming that it will employ 300 to 350 people.


The Indonesian Sugar Refineries Association reports that the country now has an annual refining capacity of 3.2 million tons and that it expects that to increase to 4.2 million as three new refineries come on stream.


As we predicted last month, it is reported that China’s Shanghai Zhongfu Group has won the right to develop a new sugar industry on the Ord River. The company will develop a 13,400 ha estate and invest Aus$700 million [$730 million] over a six year period. There is also talk that the factory will cost another Aus$425 million. The project seems to have the support of the local farmers, many of who used to grow cane when the original project was operational.


MSF Sugar [Maryborough as was, now owned by Thailand’s Mitr Phol] has announced that it intends to invest a further Aus$ 50 million at Tableland in order to increase the capacity there by about 50%. That is on top of the recently reported investment to turn the mill from a thick syrup location to a crystal sugar one.


By the time you read this the new Aus $120 million [$125 million] electrical export station at Mackay Sugar should be on line. The company is expecting to be providing about one third of the regional demand by February.


A worker died at Proserpine in northern Queensland last month, reportedly crushed between empty cane bins. The initial comments were that there was no equipment failure involved but it would seem that there was at least a system failure. We will have to await the results of the official investigation.


The Fijian government has announced that it is to stop ‘direct financial injection’ in 2013 while giving what is presumably its last budget. It has also bitten the bullet with respect to a cane payment system : the budget includes over $4 million to introduce such a system at all FSC mills.


The Mexican government has started the privatisation process for the last nine sugar mills still in the public sector. The problem is that it has sold off the better ones and these are the ones that nobody wanted.


It looks as if communism is giving way more and more in Cuba : Brazil’s Odebrecht has been appointed to administer one of the island’s state owned sugar mills. The choice of Odebrecht seems a little strange as the company is a large construction company.

In the meantime a British company called Havana Energy Ltd is reported to be ready to invest $45 and $55 million in a biomass energy plant ‘near’ the Ciro Redondo mill. It is unclear whether this is a bagasse electrical export with a cogeneration element or not.


It seems that Hurricane Sandy did more damage to the cane than at first thought. 30,000 farmers are now claiming compensation for damage [but they would, wouldn’t they?] and the current estimate is $15 million in losses. The forecast for next crop has been cut by 10%.


A Californian company called Edeniq has announced a pilot scale cellulosic ethanol plant at Brazil’s Usina Vale mill. It already has a 2 ton [dry]/day unit in Calfornia; this one will be 20 ton [dry]/day. It is very cagy about its technology but one can glean that it is based on enzymic hydrolysis.

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