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Sugar Manufactures Sweet Dividends for Cairns and Surrounds

Independent economic analysis commissioned by the Australian Sugar Milling Council has revealed a total direct and indirect economic contribution of  $322 million from the sugar manufacturing sector in the Cairns and surrounding areas in 2017-18, underpinning a total of 2,179 regional jobs.

Using sugar mill spending data grouped by postcode, respected analyst Lawrence Consulting was able to calculate and quantify the sugar manufacturing sector’s contribution last financial year by Local Government Areas (LGAs).

“Direct sugar manufacturing spend of $205 million at the Mossman, Mulgrave and Tablelands mills generated significant community benefits in the Cairns, Douglas, Mareeba, Tablelands and Yarrabah local government areas,” ASMC’s Director of Economics and Trade, David Rynne said today.

“They pay wages to 779 employees, purchase cane from local sugarcane growers, and also contract many local businesses to provide the goods and services required to run and maintain raw sugar manufacturing,” Mr Rynne added.

“Modelling the flow-on effects of the mills’ direct expenditure allowed the total (combined direct and indirect) economic impact to be estimated.”

Manufacturing contribution

The three sugar mills in the region produced a total of 820,000 tonnes of raw sugar in 2017. 

The soon to be commissioned, 24 megawatt renewable power station at the MSF Sugar Tablelands mill will provide reliable electricity to the local community.

“Producing up to 130,000 megawatt hours of power into the Queensland grid, the plant can provide electricity for around 18,570 homes or 20% of all private dwellings in these LGAs,” Mr Rynne said.

Sugar manufacturing suppliers

A local example of a supplier benefiting from a strong sugar manufacturing sector is Cairns-based engineering firm NQEA.  The business began its association in the late 1940s and today continues to provide a range of vital engineering services.

“NQEA provides support to sugar milling operators along the east coast from northern New South Wales to Mossman in Far North Queensland,” said Managing Director Mark Fry.

The Dawsons Group of Companies is also based in Cairns and has evolved from sugar equipment manufacturer over 30 years ago into one of Queensland’s largest privately owned industrial services operations. 

“We now employ up to four hundred base staff per week, increasing up to 1,000 in response to additional projects,” said CEO Sharon Dawson.

“When my father started this business in 1987, his first clients were the mills and now with offices and workshops in Cairns, Townsville and Charters Towers, the Dawsons Group is testament to sugar manufacturing’s support for local businesses,” she said

21 January 2019