Mystery Investor Backs Future Of Mossman Industry

The future is looking a little brighter for the Mossman cane-growing community after a mystery investor swooped in to save the local mill just hours before the company was due to be liquidated.

Earlier this week the administrator advised grower and mill representatives that a potential investor had come forward to provide funding alongside energy company, Clever Power.

“We were told a private investor was willing to put money on the table to save the mill,” CANEGROWERS Mossman Chairman Matt Watson said.

“Clever Power and the investor would take on the mill and guarantee crushing for at least the next four seasons as they worked to improve and increase production and make the mill more stable before looking to diversify into value-adding opportunities in the energy field.”

“We were concerned about how things would turn out when the investor seemed to have a change of heart at the last minute, and we all attended the creditor’s meeting today not knowing for sure what the outcome of all the hard work would be,” Mr Watson said.

“So, we were surprised and heartened when the administrator said there was a potential way forward with a third party and that it was with Clever Power.

CANEGROWERS continued to work on possible solutions right up to the last minute, even having representations with Community Cabinet in Cairns on Wednesday.

“That was the first time we had confirmed by the Premier that there was some government funding available to a third-party entity or investor for the mill.

“We were heartened and appreciated the backing of the local council and Douglas Chamber of Commerce who made strong recommendations to the State Government to try to save the industry.

“They called the community and businesses together to rally in Cairns at the Community Cabinet because of the real concern closure of the mill would be another disaster on top of ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

“We all knew we were staring down the barrel of the end of the sugarcane industry in Mossman and all the consequences that would flow from that.

“So, to have confirmed at the eleventh hour that someone has stepped forward to back the future of the industry, with a view to making the mill a profitable enterprise for the long term, it was just an amazing outcome for the industry and the community.”

Mr Watson said the Clever Power representatives had made it clear their focus over the next four years would be on producing sugar crystals and returning the mill to profitability.

“They sound like a very forward-thinking company, and they have big plans for the mill eventually, but only if those plans prove viable,” Mr Watson said.

“They have assured us that they are here to work with growers and the industry. Their focus, first and foremost, will be on getting the mill operating. They are determined to make the mill profitable and one of the ways they plan do that is by increasing cane throughput.”

Earlier today, Daintree Bio Precinct creditors approved the Clever Power plan, on the administrator’s recommendation. The administrator and investor now have 15 days to produce a legal document and finalise financial arrangements and sign on the dotted line before the deal is done and dusted. Without the deal, the mill could find itself facing liquidation again in a matter of weeks.

The last-minute decision by Premier Steven Miles to put together a $12 million package to either support a new investor or a community restructure, may have helped push the Clever Power deal over the line. The combined result gives great hope to growers that after years of uncertainty, a new era is finally dawning for Mossman’s cane industry.

“It has been a stressful few years, and the past few months in particular have been especially worrying, but growers are heading into this year’s crush with a renewed sense of confidence in the future and that is fantastic news for the industry and the community,” Mr Watson said.

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