AU$42 million woodchip export facility proposed

Friday 17 Nov 2017

A proposed AU$42 million export facility for woodchips in southern Tasmania is the missing link in the rebuilding of the sector, the forest industry has said. Southwood Fibre has lodged a development application with the Huon Valley Council for the facility at Strathblane, near Dover, which could create 145 jobs.

Currently bulk wood products from the state's south are trucked to an export facility at Bell Bay in northern Tasmania, where the product is processed and shipped to export markets. The proposal would see Southwood Fibre process certified plantation forests at the existing Southwood processing facility before being transported on forestry roads to a purpose-built loading facility at Strathblane, and then packed into vessels for export.

The chief executive of Southwood Fibre, James Neville-Smith, said it could generate AU$55 million of economic activity every year. "The forest industry in southern Tasmania has had significant headwind since the closure of the Triabunna mill, and there is literally hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of standing plantations in the ground that are worthless until such time as there's appropriate infrastructure to take that product to market," he told ABC Radio Hobart.

"It will go to the existing markets in Japan or China, there's a huge demand for the products at the moment and that's expected to continue to rise as plantation volumes in other areas of Australia and other areas of the world diminish so there's no doubt there's the market for it."

The Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) welcomed plans, saying the closure of the Triabunna woodchip mill had severely affected the industry. "This facility has been the missing link in the rebuilding of the Tasmanian forest industry and the Southwood Fibre development in very welcome," chief executive Terry Edwards said.

The company said there would be no wood chipping at the loading facility, but it had applied for a permit to process 800,000 tonnes. The proposal is expected to create 135 jobs during construction and 145 jobs on an ongoing basis when complete.


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