Group History
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In 1910 the Natal Government started negotiations with overseas investors for the concession for a sugar mill at Umfolozi.

As negotiations for the Umfolozi Mill reached a stage where the government anticipated it being finalised, the Lands Department started allotting farms on the Southern side of the Umfolozi River. In 1913, further farms were allotted on the Northern embankment.

On 25 September 1913 the St Lucia Sugar Company was floated with capital of £201,000. From the start, the Company had the worst of luck. Orders for the new milling equipment were placed in Scotland and Germany. In 1914 when the German orders were ready for dispatch, the war was breaking out and the German Government prohibited the sailing of all ships to foreign ports. This equipment then had to be re- ordered from Scotland. However, as the “S.S Centurian” set sail with the Umfolozi equipment aboard it was sunk by a submarine in the Irish Sea. This was the first ship ever sunk by submarine!

As it was obvious that the sugar cane would be ready for crushing before the mill would be erected the St Lucia Sugar Company undertook, as its first works, to lay down tram line to connect the farms with the railway in order to temporarily send the cane to other mills. At last, in 1916 the erection of the Umfolozi Mill was completed.

A major flood came down the Umfolozi in 1918, and the village around the mill and farms were swept away completely. By 1922, the St Lucia Sugar Company was in serious financial trouble and on 12 December 1923, was put up for auction. The mill was sold to the Umfolozi Co-Operative Sugar Planters Ltd (UCOSP), which had been registered under the Co-Operative Societies Act, 28 of 1922, on 15 November 1923.

In the early 1940’s the Minister of Lands allotted farms to settle returned soldiers at Umfolozi. At this stage the government’s Irrigation Department implemented drainage work to protect an additional 1600ha from flood damage.

Following severe flooding caused by cyclone Demoina in 1984, approximately 2000ha of farms on the western side of the floodplain were expropriated due to irreversible flood damage. A further 2000ha were then allotted on the eastern side. This last development extended the development on the Umfolozi floodplain to its current boundaries. 

Umfolozi Co-Operative Sugar Planters Ltd operated the mill until 1992 when it was sold to Illovo Sugar Ltd.

Illovo sold the mill to Umvoti Transport  Pty Ltd (Ushukela Milling) in 2005, but resumed ownership in April 2008 and announced their intention to dispose it by 31 March 2009.

For strategic business reasons, Umfolozi Co-Operative Sugar Planters Ltd, was converted to a company, and registered under the Company’s Act on 13 May 2008 as Umfolozi Sugar Planters Ltd.

On 01 April 2009, a consortium, in which Umfolozi Sugar Planters Ltd has a stakeholder interest, purchased the mill which is now known as Umfolozi Sugar Mill Pty Ltd (USM). 

 

Shareholders and  Management at the final AGM of the Co-Operative following the conversion to a  company in July 2008

 

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