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Big Creek’s $30 mil facility

HeadlineBig Creek’s $30 mil facility

By Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 9, 2022

On Wednesday, June 8, members of the local media toured the $30-million facility at the Big Creek Port in Stann Creek, where sugar-loading operations which were previously carried out at the Port of Belize are now taking place.

Mac McLachlan, Country Manager at ASR Group-Belize Sugar, mentioned to reporters during the tour, “This facility came about because the owners of Big Creek Port took a decision to dredge this port to 11 meters depth and permits much larger vessels to come in to load on the caye side here. So that 11 meters depth allows the vessel which you see this morning which is a 30,000-ton bulk carrier to come and berth alongside the caye and get loaded alongside the caye… This is the first time a vessel of that size has come and berth and loaded a raw material such as sugar from the caye side itself. That enables us to get a much faster loading rate, and when I say much faster, I mean we used to load 500-tons of sugar a day [and now] we’re looking at between 5 and 7,000-tons a day.”

He further stated, “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. That enables us to get a much faster loading rate. And when I say much faster, I mean we used to load, say, 500 tons of sugar a day. We’re now looking at somewhere between five and seven thousand tons a day. So that is a major saving for the whole industry.”

“It boils down to what you used to have—weeks of loading, it’s now down to days and it took a lot of hard work, a lot of investment. If you don’t make the investment, you can’t think about the payback coming through. And this is a significant investment that BSI has made,” highlighted Zaid Flores, Managing Director at the Port of Big Creek.

McLachlan additionally explained, “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 of course, 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 can move it up and down the ship’s length.”

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