BLUE SKY: A cane train makes its way along the track beside McGills Rd. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail
BLUE SKY: A cane train makes its way along the track beside McGills Rd. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail Scottie Simmonds

Bundy Sugar counts the cost of flooding

BUNDABERG Sugar has suffered millions of dollars of damage from the floods, with the cane train lines revealed as the latest victims.

General manager operations David Pickering said the company's network had been extensively damaged by the floodwater.

He estimated the damage to the rail lines at more than $1 million.

Mr Pickering said bridges and culverts were insured against flood damage, but the actual rail lines that made up the network were not.

"We've got a huge amount of work to do before the crush starts," he said.

One major area that was affected was the line between the Millaquin mill and Strathdees, which had been put in years ago.

The line was also used to transport cane from the surrounding area to the mill.

But Mr Pickering said the line had been "quite badly" damaged.

He said Bundaberg Sugar had an alternative route, around the Hummock, but taking the longer way would slow things down.

Mr Pickering said lots of the network's bridges and culverts had been damaged as well, but the company would have to work to get them all fixed in time for the crush.

He said the company was still in the process of evaluating the full extent of the damage to hundreds of kilometres of its rail network.

The company also had a lot of damage to the system it installed to burn bagasse to heat the refinery boilers.

The bagasse storage area was flooded, and Mr Pickering said the company had had to burn some coal already, while repairs to the system were carried out.

"We are in the process of putting equipment in to dewater the bagasse," he said.

But Mr Pickering said they were not sure how successful they would be in dewatering the bagasse.

"The equipment has been designed to deal with bagasse that has been out in the rain a bit. It's not that easy to dewater flooded bagasse."

Mr Pickering said while neither of the company's mills were flooded, other equipment had been damaged.

"It also disrupted production at the refinery," he said.

"All in all there will be a few million dollars impact on the business."

Mr Pickering said the company would now have discussions with canegrowers on the best time to start the crush this year.