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Wilmar move to secure Burdekin land

The Australian | 25 January 2013
Farmer David ‘Jock’ Killer in his canefields near Bargara in Queensland, Australia (Photo: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian)

by JOHN DURIE

SINGAPORE-based Wilmar has flagged the purchase of another 778 hectares of land in the Burdekin region south of Townsville as part of its campaign to lock up as much supply as possible.

The move comes amid a long-running battle with a group of rebel farmers, who plan to supply Austcane with sugar for an ethanol plant in the region.

Wilmar acquired the old CSR sugar operations in the region, making Sucrogen the monopoly sugar miller in the region.

Wilmar is a farmer multinational part-owned by Archer Daniel Midlands, which owns 15 per cent of Grain Corp and keen to buy out the rest.

The land in question is owned by the Australian Agricultural College, which is in some financial trouble and a perceived seller of the land.

Even though no final decision has been made on the sale, Wilmar has applied to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission for clearance to buy the land to boost its own supplies and also deny rival operations.

Sucrogen and Austcane have been in court for much of the past two years after the sugar company opposed council approval to build the ethanol plant.

As the monopoly processor, Sucrogen is not keen on alternate sugar cane purchases.

The ACCC has the case listed for decision in March.

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