Australia’s oldest sugar mill gets a spoonful of new

Ahrens achieve ‘sweet’ success for Sunshine Sugar with the completion of a new expansive warehouse, helping them accommodate for the future.

Ahrens partnered with Sunshine Sugar, the only 100% Australian grown, made and owned sugar manufacturer, to create an expansive facility that not only ticked all the boxes for functionality but was also a modern and aesthetically pleasing update to the century-old Harwood site.

Sitting on the banks of the Clarence River, the Sunshine Sugar Harwood Mill and Refinery is the oldest continuously operating sugar mill in Australia and has been crushing cane since 1874, engaging Ahrens to complete the design and construction of their new warehouse and associated dispatch and receival areas.

Covering 7,000m2, scope of works included the 4,800m2 warehouse itself as well as 2,200m2 of dispatch and receival awnings, and a dual storey dispatch office, warehouse and driver amenities.

External works included asphalt and access roads, featuring the safety design of a separate receival entry and dispatch exit with a common driveway, a feature which ensured transport vehicles could have clear access to drive through for dispatch and receival.

Ahrens’ creative and collaborative approach, fused with their experience in the food and beverage infrastructure sector, saw them work with the client and other key stakeholders to establish agreed project outcomes from the very start, and could apply unique design features for the client such as a unique tapered column design, with fabricated beams, to provide enhanced cost efficiencies.

Due to its location on Harwood Island, the facility’s design is truly unique due to the challenges of the highly reactive and unstable ground conditions as well as the site being in a flood basin.

The design therefore accounted for this unique locale, with the steel building built into the foundations and adjustable to allow for potential uneven movement of subgrade.

Ahrens are a fifth-generation national full service construction, engineering, mining services and rural infrastructure company that were able to closely manage costs and safety, quality and environmental factors to deliver the project on time and within budget.

The modern facility proved a recipe for success for Sunshine Sugar, increasing their capacity to store finished sugar products. With in-house capabilities that set them apart from the rest, Ahrens could deliver this project from concept to completion, completing the build in a 10 month period.

Sunshine Sugar is a partnership between the grower-owned NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative and the Australian family-owned business, Manildra Group and is the only 100 per cent Australian owned producer of raw and refined sugar products.

This project forged a relationship between Ahrens and Sunshine Sugar, two influential Australian companies.

Named in honour of former chairman and cane grower, Mr Ian Causley, the complex is now known as the Ian Causley Freight and Logistics Warehouse.

The warehouse facility was officially opened by Federal member for Page, Kevin Hogan, who praised the facility and emphasised the flow-on effect this would have on job creation and the industry itself.

“[This mill] will guarantee, not only 150 direct jobs, but 1200-1500 indirect jobs,” Mr Hogan said.

“This is a massive multi-million dollar investment into the future of the sugar industry in Harwood.”

Ahrens have a proven history of providing ‘sweet’ solutions for a diverse range of clients in the food and beverage industry, with experience working with larger operations and boutique businesses all across Australia.


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