Biofuel dream chance

MARYBOROUGH could become home to a bio-power or ethanol plant if the buy-out of MSF Sugar goes ahead.

Thai company Mitr Phol, which is in the process of buying out 100% of MSF Sugar shares, plans to invest in biomass power plants and ethanol through its new acquisition, in addition to the sugar business.

Company president and chief executive Krisda Monthienvichienchai has met cane farmers who supply MSF's four mills, including in Maryborough.

He has told the MSF management team and Thai media that Mitr Phol would diversify into biomass power plants and biofuels to increase value from the Australian mills.

Mr Monthienvichienchai said because of the volatile nature of the global sugar industry, it made sense to generate income from what would traditionally be considered waste products of cane production.

"Our business in Thailand is an example of how we can utilise all of the output from sugar cane to have zero waste, and we can generate more revenue from related businesses," he told Thai newspaper The Nation.

The company has already budgeted to invest in three biomass power plants this year - two in Thailand and one in China.

He said if the Australian plants went ahead, they would be the first renewable energy plants of their kind in the country - provided they could get government approval.

In the company's next visit to Australia, Mr Monthienvichienchai hopes to meet the trade minister to discuss the proposal, and to seek clarification on the government's policies about bio-power promotion.

Mitr Phol offically put forward a $313 million cash bid for the Maryborough company in November last year, with the buy-out expected to be complete in the next few months.

Shareholders have until February 10 to cash in on the company's offer of $4.45 a share.

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