The last of Wilmar Sugar and Renewables’ four Burdekin mills has started production.

General Manager Operations Mike McLeod said the first bin was tipped at Pioneer Mill near Brandon on Tuesday night.

This means half of Wilmar’s mills are making sugar, molasses and renewable electricity.

Inkerman Mill in Home Hill was first to begin the crushing season for the Wilmar group on Monday, 10 June. Despite an unexpected shutdown because of industrial action, Inkerman has already crushed 77,000 tonnes of cane and produced about 10,000 tonnes of sugar.

Kalamia and Invicta mills started crushing on Thursday, 13 June – a week later than originally planned because of industrial action.

Mr McLeod said Wilmar’s other four mills – Victoria and Macknade near Ingham, Proserpine on the Whitsunday coast, and Plane Creek south of Mackay – are all expected to be in production early next week.

The Sarina Distillery has been operating since 1 June, producing bioethanol for fuel and industrial products.

Mr McLeod said crews had worked hard to maintain throughput at the sugar mills that are operating, so growers could continue harvesting while fine weather prevailed.

“Everyone in the industry has an eye on the weather at this time of year, so we can’t afford to lose any time,” he said.

“Our people have worked hard to recover from the earlier stoppages and delays and, with everything going our way, everyone will have a good season.”

Wilmar’s eight mills are expected to process 15.59 million tonnes of sugarcane this year, to produce more than two million tonnes of raw sugar.

Representatives from Wilmar and union bargaining agents will meet for another round of bargaining for a new enterprise agreement on Thursday (20 June).

The parties will report back to the Fair Work Commission on Friday (21 June).