Clark: Upgrades on track

THE Fiji Sugar Corporation is spending $30 million on the upgrade of all three mills — Labasa, Lautoka and Rarawai.

CEO Graham Clark said the maintenance and refurbishment work was progressing well and once completed, milling operations and efficiencies should improve significantly.

“In Lautoka, we are doing some really major work on our diffuser — the machine that primarily extracts the sucrose out of the cane,” he said.

“It had done its time and was really shaking on its legs by the end of last season, so a major refurbishment is being done there.

“We are bringing all the components in from Belgium where it was made, so we’re using original components and we’ve got a team with all the experts in place now overseeing it.”

Mr Clark added that the Lautoka mill’s 12 megawatt generator which developed issues in 2015 was also being restored to full capacity.

“We finally managed to get the ability to send it back to the manufacturer for refurbishment so it’s sitting in England now being fully dismantled, refurbished and rebuilt and it will be back here a month or so after the start of the season — we will use standby generators in the interim.”

Mr Clark said the Rarawai mill in Ba was “pretty sound” but the processing end needed a lot of work. “So we are installing a new pan station — the pan is where we boil cane juice to crystallise it into sugar.

“That should significantly improve our TCTS (tonnes cane to tonnes sugar) and we will recover more sugar from the cane and improve sugar quality as well.

“We have a very big expatriate contractor team on site right now doing the work.”

He said work was also being done on the shredder at the Labasa mill.

“That is being fully refurbished in Australia right now and we should have it back in time to assist us in the milling side.

“Having a shredder station means you get greater throughput, you prepare the cane for milling a lot better.”

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