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An Independent Queensland Regional & Rural 

On-Line Publication

(Cairns... Far North Queensland)


Thank you for visiting my on-line office.

I appreciate your interest in the issues that effect not only Queenslanders, but all Australians.

Please let me hear from you about your views on the issues that matter to your Family, your Community and your State.


Selwyn Johnston



One person, with the support of the community, can make a difference








    Australia's Sugarcane Industry - History

    Australia's Sugarcane Industry - by Robert F. McKillop

         BIO-PLASTIC 'Sugarcane Derived - COMPOSTABLE PLASTIC BAGS   

    Bio-Fuel Production

    BSES Limited (formerly Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations) 


    Cane Fields Eco-Paper Products         

    Canegrowers' Vision - For Ethanol and Fermentation Products




    Queensland Caneharvesters

    Sugar Industry Reform Program 2004 - (SIRP)

    Sugar Research Institute

         SUGAR SOLUTIONS     

          The Australia That I Knew!

         Sugar Documents


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The Australian Sugar Industry has developed a world reputation for:






Sustainable growth

As Australia's second largest export crop and Queensland's largest rural commodity, sugar is a major contributor to the Australian economy.

Raw sugar is produced from sugarcane in three of the Australian states, approximately 94.2 percent in Queensland, 5.1 percent in New South Wales and 0.7 percent in Western Australia. There are currently 26 raw sugar mills in Queensland (including one mill that processes sugarcane to syrup stage only), 3 in New South Wales and 1 in Western Australia.

Australia is currently one of the world's largest exporters of raw sugar, with Queensland exporting about 80 to 85 percent of its total raw sugar production. Almost 100 percent of raw sugar exports originate in Queensland. Total sales of Queensland raw sugar are around $2 billion annually. 

Australia also exports refined sugar. Currently there are four sugar refineries in Australia, 2 in Queensland (Mackay & Bundaberg), 1 in New South Wales (Harwood), and 1 in Victoria (Melbourne). 

Most sugarcane is grown on coastal plains and river valleys along 2100 km of the eastern coastline between Mossman in Far North Queensland and Grafton in the northern part of the adjoining State of New South Wales (NSW). A small industry in the Ord River region of the State of Western Australia had its first full season in 1996. 

Australia has over 545,000 hectares (ha) devoted to cane growing. Sugarcane area in Queensland has increased by over 40% since 1988 and now exceeds 508,000 ha cane fields represent 20% of Queensland's total crop area. Most cane is grown within 80 km of the coast, mainly in high rainfall areas and based on numerous river systems.  

The sugar industry underpins the economic prosperity of many coastal communities.  

Reliable rainfall (or stored water for irrigation) is vital to productive and profitable cane growing. Sugarcane accounts for over 40% of water users in Queensland. Some 66% of cane growers have some form of irrigation. Irrigation is essential for crop growth in the Burdekin and Atherton Tableland districts (and in the Ord in WA) and is used on a supplementary basis in other cane growing districts. 

In the 1997 season Australia produced 5.74 million tonnes (Mt) of raw sugar from 41 Mt of sugarcane harvested from 419,915 ha. Of this, Queensland producers accounted for 5.4 Mt of sugar crushed from 38.1 Mt of cane harvested off 397,512 ha. Australia's average cane production was 98 t/ha and sugar production was 13.75 t/ha.

Twenty mills each crushed over one million tonnes of cane. Mill throughput ranged from 3.81 Mt of cane at Victoria Mill to 402,600 tonnes at Australia's only privately owned mill at Rocky Point. Nearly 65% of the Queensland crop was harvested without burning and green harvesting. Queensland sugar mill owners own operate and maintain 4100 km of narrow gauge (610 mm) railway, over which 94% of total cane production is transported to 23 mills. 

In 1998 the first new sugar mill to be built in Queensland in over 70 years began crushing cane on the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns. Since 1985, six Queensland mills have closed - Qunaba (1985), Goondi (1987), North Eton (1988), Cattle Creek (1989), Hambledon (1991) and Nambour (2003). Cooperative (grower-owned) entities own 12 of Australia's sugar mills. 

Size of most cane farms are from 30 to 120 hectares. The average Queensland cane farm in 1997 produced 5840 tonnes of sugarcane. Most are owned and operated by family farmers. Sugar mill owners produce less than 2.5% of cane output.


Australian Sugar Milling Council

Sugar Research Institute

Map of the Australian Sugar Industry


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CANEGROWERS recognises that sugarcane, the crop with one of the highest rates of conversion of sunlight into biomass, will always play a major role as a feedstock in any future industry based on fermentation of biomass. 

An industry based on sugarcane that produces ETHANOL and other fermentation products has the potential to provide the Australian community with a number of benefits. 

These include:

Economically stable, vibrant, diversified regional communities

Improvement in air quality through use of ethanol in petrol

Substitution of a stable source of locally produced fuel for imported products from an uncertain market

Use of renewable feedstock for fuel, reducing dependence on limited fossil fuels and reducing contributions to the greenhouse

In addition, CANEGROWERS recognises an industry that includes in its product mix ETHANOL and other fermentation products will reduce our reliance on the world sugar market and, potentially, stabilise industry income and reduce industry price risk. 

In order to reduce the industry’s exposure to the world sugar price, CANEGROWERS therefore adopts as its target that, in the future, a significant proportion of the income stream from sugarcane growing should come from ethanol and fermentation products. 

In order to achieve this objective, CANEGROWERS will support: 

Research and technology development to improve the efficiency of production of sugarcane biomass and the conversion of this biomass to ETHANOL and other fermentation products

Government actions to recognise the community benefits of an ethanol industry through appropriate taxation and incentive arrangements

Actions that promote grower ownership of ethanol and fermentation industries

Proper recognition of the value of sugarcane when used as a feedstock for ethanol and other fermentation industries

CANEGROWERS further recognises that ETHANOL and other fermentation industries may play a strategic part in the industry product mix by allowing the use of genetically modified feedstock for products that do not enter the food chain, until such time as these products gain community acceptance.





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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870