Wilmar's Cane Products business is proud to own and operate some of the most efficient sugar mills in the world. We are recognised as one of the lowest-cost producers of raw sugar. We produce about half of Australia's raw sugar supplies and 4 per cent of the world's internationally traded raw sugar.
Sugarcane is a type of grass. Like all grasses, it has green leaves, a stalk and roots to collect sunlight, moisture and carbon dioxide. Sugarcane makes and stores its own food - a sweet juice containing sugar - in its stalk.
Mature cane stands 2-4 metres high and is usually harvested between June and December, when the sugar content is at its peak.
The harvested cane (called cane billets) is put into cane bins, which are transported from the paddock to a cane train railway siding, where a mill-owned locomotive will come to collect them and deliver them to the nearest sugar mill.
All of Wilmar Sugar’s mills operate under continuous crushing arrangements – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Regular cleaning and maintenance stops are performed at each mill during the season.
Turning sugarcane into raw sugar
Once harvested cane arrives at the mill, it is tipped on to a cane carrier, which transports the cane billets to a shredder. The shredder reduces and shreds the cane into fibrous material and ruptures the juice cells. The sweet juice is then concentrated and crystalised to produce sugar.
This process generates two valuable by-products:
bagasse - the material left after the cane has been crushed
molasses - the syrup leftover after sugar crystals have been formed
Bagasse is used as boiler fuel at all seven Wilmar's sugar mills to produce steam, which is converted into electricity for the milling process. This process is called cogeneration.
Molasses is the feedstock used to produce ethanol. It is also a valuable stockfeed.
Some of Wilmar's mills create enough renewable electricity to allow for significant quantities to be exported into Queensland's power grid. Wilmar owns and operates two of the largest cogeneration plants in the Australian sugar industry - both in the Burdekin region.
Our seven mills, have a total co-generation capacity of 171 megawatts, with a surplus of 105MW exported into the power grid. We produce more than 515GWh of green energy per year - enough to meet the power needs of more than 40,000 homes. Compared with power generated from fossil fuels, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is equivalent to taking 112,000 motor cars off the road.
At Wilmar, safe and sustainable co-generation production currently contributes about 3 per cent of the Australian large-scale renewable energy target.