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Bundaberg Port dredge full steam ahead

Suzannah Baker, Thursday July 25, 2013 - 14:04 EST
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Representatives from the sugar industry have lobbied the government for a funding for dredging at Bundaberg Port, which has finally been approved. - ABC

A decision the Bundaberg region’s sugar industry has been anxiously waiting for has been made.

A total of $4.9 million has been put up by the Federal and State Governments to carry out urgent dredging work at the Bundaberg Port which was damaged in the January floods.

There's still a stockpile of last year's sugar sitting at the port and the industry was worried that this season's cane crush would have to stop.

Canegrowers acting CEO, Ron Mullins, says waiting for the decision has come at a big cost to the industry.  

"So far this season it's cost the sugar industry $6 million in having to double handle all the sugar out of the port of Bundaberg, into Mackay, reloading into other ships for the export market."

He says they've lobbied hard for the funding decision which was made was just in time, as further delays would have created more problems with restrictions around turtle hatching season.

"We anticipate the dredging will commence immediately,� Mr Mullins says.  

"Bundaberg growers, millers and the Bundaberg community generally need this sort of support to get their lives back to normality."

While the industry was waiting on the decision, some parties had started looking to an alternative but expensive plan B to move the sugar.

Stewart Norton from MSF sugar says they were looking to truck sugar from Bundaberg to Brisbane so it could be loaded onto larger ships.

"It would have cost us millions and millions of dollars in additional freight charges, whichever way we went."

He says they're very relieved the decision has been made and they will be able to export sugar normally by October when the dredging work is expected to be finished.

This is only stage two in repairing the port however, there's still $7 million of funding needed to secure the northern bank of the Burnett River at the harbour to stop it silting up again before the next sugar season.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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