By Tusika Martin
Skeldon sugar factory has produced 147 tons of sugar as another set of test runs begins.
Kaieteur News has learnt that the tests began some days ago, and no major discrepancies have occurred at the factory.
Speaking with Kaieteur News last evening, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud said that he is cautiously optimistic that the current testing and commercial production of sugar for local and export markets by the new state-of-the-art Skeldon factory will proceed according to plan.
“I am happy that we are seeing export-quality sugar being produced in commercial quantities.”
The Minister said that the old factory is currently out of operation.
At present, the Minister explained, the testing activities are being closely monitored by the Chinese contracting firm as this is a turn-key operation.
Persaud added that Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) will not accept an incomplete factory.
Persaud and some others will conduct a planned inspection of the new factory on Monday.
Only recently, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that as soon as the contractor gets engineers to Guyana, and as soon as there is an adequate supply of cane, the factory will be tested again.
The Head of State had previously said that the China National Technology Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC) responsible for the construction of the factory will face liquated damages for the delay.
On September 15, 2008, Site Representative of China National Technology Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC), Andrew Jin, told the media that the trial run showed that there were problems between the punt dumper and the conveyor belt while, at the same time, difficulties have been encountered with the shredder bearings.
‘Choking’, he had said, was occurring when fresh water was pumped into the diffuser. This same problem recurred at the second and third evaporators.
Two days after it was announced that the factory was indeed having technical difficulties, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud said that Guyana was examining legal options and remedies which can be enforced against CNTIC.
The Minister said that fines can be imposed under the contract signed between Guyana and the Chinese company. The fines can exceed US$5M.
Following the official handover of Skeldon factory, there are three further 72-hour tests which can be carried out by the owner during the next year. During that period, the contractor is still responsible for defects arising from those tests, despite the fact that the factory would be in commercial use.
The new factory is expected to produce 110,000 tonnes of sugar a year.
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