UPGRADES: The Bundaberg Port sugar terminals are in the process of getting new roofs.
UPGRADES: The Bundaberg Port sugar terminals are in the process of getting new roofs. Mike Knott

Sugar terminals get a sweet, $17 million upgrade

BUNDABERG'S Bulk Sugar Terminal is an imperative port of call for buyers of quality Australian raw sugar, and an injection of $17 million during the next two years to upgrade the shed facilities will see it thrive well into the future.

Sugar Terminals Limited CEO John Warda said the re-roofing project for the two large sugar storage sheds at Bundaberg was a preventative measure to ensure no problems would arise in coming years.

"The roofs are quite old and have started to deteriorate," he said.

"There have been holes that were patched up over many years to make sure no water was getting into the sugar, and the outside coating was breaking up so we have to replace it before it creates a problem for the product inside.

"The board made a decision in 2012 to replace the roofs on 12 sheds located at our six bulk sugar terminals across Northern Queensland and we're now 70 per cent through."

STL owns terminals at the ports of Cairns, Mourilyan, Lucinda, Townsville , Mackay and Bundaberg, with Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) operating as its key contractor under a long-term operating agreement.

The roof replacement process at the Bundaberg terminal is a two-year project which is being undertaken over two six-month periods from April to September in 2018 and again during that same period in 2019.

Mr Warda ensured the upgrades would not affect canegrowers' harvesting in the region and advised that the staging of the project was designed to ensure the company would still have storage space available for deliveries from mills throughout the crushing season.

"It won't hold up sugar receivals at all," he said.

"We are about a quarter of the way through the first stage, which involves replacing the roof of Shed 2 this year."

The project involves three main work components, the first and most difficult task being the removal of the old roofs.

"The terminals were built back in the late '50s and early '60s with bitumen-impregnated galbestos roofs that have to be handled carefully. It's a very important operation," Mr Warda said.

"We also need to make structural repairs to the purlins and trusses that hold up the roofs to ensure they meet current-day standards required in severe weather conditions which are experienced in the regions where we operate.

"After all of that, then we put the new aluminium roofs on.

"By September we will need storage space for sugar again as we will have filled the other storage, Shed 1, by that time."

The Bundaberg terminal storage holds about 350,000 tonnes of raw sugar valued up to $175 million and Mr Warda said he knew how important that product was for the sugar industry in the region.

"It's a lot of value we're holding for our customers and critical revenue that the industry generates through the community," he said.

"It's important for the region because raw sugar is one of the main exports out of Bundaberg, and critical that STL maintains the highest quality of product possible for its export customers to maximise the value they can get for their growers."

Upon successful completion of the project, STL will engage in further roof upgrades at its Townsville and Mackay export terminals.