Brazilian firm idles ethanol plant to divert cane to sugar output

Brazilian energy company Usaçúcar will suspend operations at its ethanol unit São Tomé in southern Paraná state and divert the cane from the fields around the installation to other mills that can produce sugar as well as ethanol, the company said on Wednesday.

Usaçúcar, a private company that owns 10 mills in Paraná and is building a new plant in neighboring Mato Grosso do Sul state, said the superior returns the company was getting from sugar production was behind the shutdown of the plant.

The company’s general manager, Roberto Cidade, said the decision will be for the new center-south cane crop, which runs from April to March. He added that the plant could be brought back on-line in the future if market conditions change.

“The plant will stay on stand-by,” he said.

Usaçúcar produced 1.48 million tonnes of sugar in 2015 and exported all of that volume.

Cidade declined to say if the company had already sold forward a large volume of sugar from the next crop, as many mills have in response to high international sugar prices.

The São Tomé mill has an installed capacity to crush 1.15 million tonnes of cane per year. The company said the cane around the plant will be transported to be processed mainly at the nearby Tapejara and Rondon mills.


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