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Branchline, Oct 12, 2011

 

Relief on the way

Earlier today, the Tasmanian Government announced that it had taken action to avert the forest industry choking on a stockpile of logs caused principally by the shut down of the Triabunna woodchip mill seven months ago.

I applaud the quick action by the Resources Minister Bryan Green to make $1.1 million available to shift the logjam in the south of state and to transfer sawlog to the north west, where Forestry Tasmania has been unable to supply contracted volumes.

FT advised the minister late last week that it was concerned, that without urgent action, there was a grave risk the industry could grind to a standstill prior to Christmas, and before the Intergovernmental Agreement was fully implemented.

The Minister requested advice on the best possible solution to the following short term issues:

  • The build up of sawmill waste
  • The build up of pulp logs on landings
  • The lack of sawlog supply to the north west
  • Relief for forest contractors.


Acknowledging there is little likelihood of the Triabunna facility opening in the short term, Forestry Tasmania recommended the following:

  • Transporting approximately 39,000 tonnes of pulpwood from the south and north west to the only remaining export facility at Bell Bay;
  • Transporting approximately 5,000 tonnes of sawlog from the south to the north west ; and
  • Moving approximately 24,000 tonnes of sawmill waste and residues to Bell Bay.


Following an exhaustive analysis, Forestry Tasmania concluded the additional transport task would cost $1.1 million more than would otherwise have been incurred if Triabunna was open.

On the positive side, the arrangement would deliver the following benefits:

  • Clear the backlog and avert the risk of an industry shut down prior to Christmas.
  • Avert the risk of stand downs in the short term for approximately 800 employees in the industry;
  • Generate a final product value for Tasmania of around $6 million;
  • Direct payments to transport contractors of $2 million to $2.5 million;
  • Direct payments to harvest contractors of around $1 million;
  • Overcome a critical sawlog shortage in the north west; and
  • Enable sawmillers/processors to clear their yards of waste wood.


As a result of the government's prompt response, FT, in partnership with contractors, is confident the transport task can begin as early as next week.

As many of you know, FT has been diligently working to minimise the impacts of the Triabunna shut down, mainly through whole log shipments. These shipments are providing a dual benefit - reducing the stockpile of wood that would otherwise be exported as chips, and proving up a new market to downstream this lower quality wood into rotary peeled veneer, right here in Tasmania. These shipments will continue.

On other matters, congratulations to the winners of our annual Contractor Safety Award - Perotti Brothers Enterprises based in the north, and Red Roo Contracting and Wildcat Logging, both working from Smithton. FT has been delighted with the dramatic improvement in the safety performance of our contractors. (read more with photos)

Congratulations also to Lachie Clark and Daniel Bowden who, between them, badgered and cajoled 35 FT employees to participate in Ride to Work today. It was an impressive turn out - more than ten percent of our head office rode their bikes to work, and northern district staff participated for the first time. The interest in cycling must be at close to an all time high - we keep more bike racks in at FT, and they keep filling up as more and more of our staff turn to pedal power. (click for photos)

Until next time,

Bob Gordon


Managing Director
Forestry Tasmania

6
235 8225

 

 


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