Crushing resumes

Rakiraki truck driver Muni Chand (2nd from left) with other drivers waits patiently for the Lautoka Sugar Mill to start crushing. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FILE

THE Fiji Sugar Corporation says the Lautoka mill is fully operational after a “brief eight-hour stoppage” on Wednesday this week.

In a press statement released yesterday, the miller said the stoppage was because of boiler feeder problems which affected the supply of bagasse to the mill’s boilers which powered the factory.

Bagasse is the fuel residual matter left over from crushing cane which provides fuel for operating the mill.

FSC said the issue was resolved by engineers and the mill resumed operations at 8.30am yesterday.

“As of 8am this (yesterday) morning, a total of 116 lorries were weighed in at the Lautoka weigh bridge,” said FSC chief executive officer Graham Clark.

“Seventy-eight lorries were from the Lautoka sectors and collectively 38 from Rarawai and Penang or 33 per cent”.

Mr Clark added that FSC senior management had been stationed at the mill overseeing the progress of mill repairs and also tendering to the needs of lorry drivers in the queue.

He said lorry drivers who had queued up during the mill downtime were well catered for with proper meals and beverages.

“These are teething problems at the start of the crushing season,” Mr Clark said.

“Labasa mill, which commenced crushing a week ago, also faced similar start-up issues and they are well and truly into their crushing momentum now”.

Mr Clark confirmed that prior to the start-up, normal commissioning and sequencing protocols were followed as was the custom.

The Lautoka mill has crushed close to 3000 tonnes of cane over the past two days and is expected to crush about 485,000 tonnes of cane this season, of which 60,000 tonnes was from Rarawai mill sectors.

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