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Jun 8, 2022

ASR/BSI Multimillion-Dollar Investment at Big Creek Port for Sugar Industry

News Five team traveled south to the Big Creek Port where American Sugar Refinery/Belize Sugar Industry officially launched its improved raw sugar and molasses logistics at the port.  It comes by way of a multimillion-dollar investment that reduces the export loading rate for these products. It is part of the miller’s transformational investments for a sustainable future. News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting 

It was a proud and historic moment for stakeholders in the sugar industry, as A.S.R./B.S.I. worked overtime to see a thirty million-dollar investment being made at the Big Creek Port in Independence where sugar is stored and loaded on to deep water vessels mechanically.


Mac McLachlan

Mac McLachlan, Country Manager, A.S.R. Group-Belize Sugar

“The owners of Big Creek Port took a decision to dredge this port to eleven meters depth and that permits much larger vessels than could hither to come in to come in to load on the quay side here. That eleven meters depth allows vessels such as the one you see this morning which is a thirty thousand-ton bulk carrier to come and berth alongside tbe quay and get loaded on the quay. And I just want to make the point this is a piece of history in Belize. It is the first time that a vessel that size has come and berth and loaded raw material like sugar from the quay side itself.”


Since 2017, A.S.R./B.S.I. moved its business from the Port of Belize to the south. It was a bold move, but one which it says is now paying off. With this multimillion-dollar investment it cuts down the time to load raw sugar from six weeks to five days and allows for thirty thousand tons of raw sugar to be shipped at any given time.


Mac McLachlan

“The way raw sugar is marketed in the world is against a global price; we call it the New York number eleven price, it’s the raw sugar price and it is a traded price so it is there all the time. But that price is based on the fact you could load sugar at least four thousand tons a day. Now in the past we couldn’t achieve that so every ton of sugar we were selling, there was a discount for the amount of time it was taking to load that sugar. We just today, well yesterday when the loading started, overcome that bottleneck and that barrier.”


About one hundred and forty thousand tons of raw sugar is produced at Tower Hill annually. With thirty tons per shipment, at nineteen cents U.S. per pound, that translates to over twelve point five million U.S. dollars. Supply Chain Manager Eldy Smith explains the new facilities and the efficiency of the mechanical processes on site.


Eldy Smith

Eldy Smith, Supply Chain Manager, A.S.R. Group-Belize Sugar

“We had fifteen thousand metric tons load in the past year and that used to take six weeks. Now before us, we have a thirty thousand metric tons vessel which will be doing in six days. We have the trucks coming in here to load from the hoppers, each truck having thirty metric tons. They are coming, making the circuit, going through the truck scale, going on to the truck un-loader where it is dumped and it is then conveyed into the ship. Over here we have a system of forty thousand metric tons warehouse where we have a hopper inside which payloaders feed into the hoppers, into the overhead conveyers and feed into the hopper where it is then trucked into the ship.”


Mac McLachlan

“We used to load say five hundred tons of sugar a day. We are not looking at somewhere between five and seven thousand tons a day so that is a major saving for the whole industry. The facility itself is a major warehousing facility and a molasses storage facility. It’s got all the things that go with that, the conveyor systems and everything else and a major fleet of vehicles to bring sugar and molasses from tower hill down to this facility to enable the loading to take place. And, of course, a very state-of-the-art conveyor system for loading into the ship which is portable – you could move it up and down the ship’s length.”


Other benefits of the investment include employment opportunities for Stann Creek West and environmental concerns surrounding the tug and barge system that it replaces.


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Logistics

“This launch today also marks the end of the decade-old tug and barge system that had previously been utilized in the sugar industry – a system which was plagued with several challenges including environmental concerns. But all of this would not be possible if the owners and managers of the Port of Big Creek did not have the foresight and ambition to create Belize’s first deep water port which led to the opportunity for A.S.R./B.S.I. to revamp its existing logistical operations.”


Rodwell Ferguson, Area Rep, Stann Creek West

“Even though some jobs were lost in Belize City, we are looking at the interest of the farmers and likewise B.S.I. So I hope in the end there should be some benefit for the farmers as this thing prolongs and that they will realize that it was a very good investment for the sugar industry.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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