SPECIAL REPORT: D-DAY LOOMS - Mossman, wider Douglas Shire community hopeful of averting Mill liquidation


David Gardiner


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The administrator has recommended the Mossman Mill be wound up – unless the state government steps in with a last-minute financial support package. Picture: Far Northern Milling

UPDATEVIDEO: MOSSMAN MILL LATEST: Today's developments at Cairns community cabinet meeting


A crisis community meeting will be held at Mossman Shire Hall next Monday evening from 6pm in an attempt to save the Mossman Mill and its associated business ventures from being wound up by creditors. 

Late yesterday the administrator, John Goggin of Worrells, sent his report to creditors, shareholders and other stakeholders with the devastating recommendation that the Mill be wound up.

Creditors will meet next Thursday February 29 to consider the report and its recommendation, and unless there is a last-minute rescue package from the state and/or federal governments, they’re likely to vote for winding up and the subsequent liquidation of company assets.

“My discussions with interested parties for the future of the mill have not resulted in any proposals for a Deed of Company Arrangement (“DOCA”),” Mr Goggin said in the report.

“For this reason, my current recommendation is that creditors vote to wind up the Companies.” 

‘Your Voice, Our Future: How will the Mill’s closure impact us all?’ 

The Douglas Chamber of Commerce is organising a crisis community meeting in Mossman at 6pm on Monday evening to discuss the administrator’s report, with the headline: ‘Your Voice, Our Future: How will the Mill’s closure impact us all?’ 

Organisers say they want to make it clear to the government that without the Mill, the town and its surrounds will be virtually killed off economically, with many other businesses, particularly smaller ventures, forced to close.

No sign of Govt rescue package 

Despite attempts by the Mill to secure money from the state government to guarantee the 2024 and 2025 crushing seasons, no funding has been forthcoming so far. 

“At this point, it is not viable for the Mill to continue operations past the end of February unless a funding facility is agreed in principle,” Mr Goggin wrote.

“As at the date of this report, the Government have not committed to provide the further financial support needed to continue with the operation of the Mill for the 2024 season,” Administrator John Goggin wrote. “I have been advised that Government are still considering their position in this regard.”

“In addition to the funding requirement for operations the Mill and the associated cane rail infrastructure was damaged as a result of the floods associated with Cyclone Jasper. Current estimates are in the vicinity of $2 Million to repair the damage. I am working with Government to determine if any disaster relief grants area available for the mill.” 

Private sector interest

The administrator said he had engaged with “various interest parties who have expressed interest in supporting the group with a view to advancing the Daintree Bio Precinct concept.”

The Mill had aimed to “transition away from the production of raw sugar and diversify toward a high value bio hub supported by advance clean energy, waste management and re-cycling infrastructure.”

Proposed biofuel products would include sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel for remote communities. 

But although there had been a good level of interest in helping take the Mill forward, no companies – including Helmont Energy and Licella Holdings – had committed to providing a funding solution to maintain the operations of the Mill.

Mr Goggin said he had also engaged with a number of other parties who operated in the bio energy space including a firm based in Warners Bay, NSW, called Clever Power, as well as discussions with other companies who had shown interest in partnering with the Mill in future:

  •  Super Char 
  • Jet Zero 
  •  Solace Private Equity 
  •  Renewable Developments Australia Pty Ltd (“RDA”) 
  •  CSIRO

“Catastrophic knock-on effect”: Canegrowers

Canegrowers have reacted to the administrators report and made a further plea for the state government and save not only the Mill and its Bio Precinct businesses, but the whole town of Mossman.

“The sugarcane industry and bio precinct are responsible for so much employment in the area that if they go, the town’s economy will be devastated,” Canegrowers Mossman Chairman Matt Watson said.

With the community still reeling from the devastating impacts of ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper, Mr Watson said if the Mill is wound up as recommended, the Mossman Bio Precinct Group will cease operating, leaving up to a third of the town’s population without jobs.

“This isn’t about saving one group of businesses or one industry, it’s about the flow-on effect,” he said.

“It’s about the survival of our community and the families that live here. We are all interlinked, and the collapse of the sugarcane industry will have a catastrophic knock-on effect on the whole community.”

Bleak future without support

Canegrowers said that the Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner had been heavily engaged on the topic and told industry leaders yesterday that the government had yet to decide whether it would step in to save the small far north community.

“We’re asking Minister Furner and the Cabinet to take decisive action to save our town. If the government turns its back on us now, there is a very bleak future ahead for our region.

“Growers have already invested heavily in the 2024 crop, spending more than $14 million this year alone. And we’re willing to invest more. We just need a partner with the means and the vision to realise the potential we have here in Mossman.”  

The Australian Cane Farmers Association’s local representative Jack Murday said: “We’re not asking the government to prop up an industry here. Together, the sugarcane industry and bio precinct have the potential to carry this region into a new and exciting era, but only if we can complete the transition we began in 2019.”

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