Friday Offcuts 12 May 2023
As we outlined last week, yet another major Fonterra manufacturing site in New Zealand is transitioning out of coal. The co-operative announced they were converting their boilers at the Hautapu site to using wood pellets. As part of a concentrated move to decarbonise their milk processing operations, their Stirling wood biomass boiler fired up for the first-time last month and their Waitoa wood biomass boiler is due to be operational in November.
Demand from these larger industrial end users for new wood biofuel supplies has already got forest owners looking at extracting wood residues from their harvest operations and exploring new partnerships for both in-field and off-site chipping of forest residues, offcuts left on landings and short length or malformed logs not meeting MDF, pulp- mill or chip export log specifications. As well as these larger site conversions, another boost has just been supplied with a NZ$10million dollar investment announced by the NZ Government to enable all remaining coal boilers in the country’s schools to be converted and fuelled with renewable woody biomass or electric heating sources by 2025.
Out of Australia this week, after over 28 years working in wood processing, last Friday, Jon Kleinschmidt, known fondly throughout the industry as ‘JK’, officially retired as Chief Executive Officer of Hyne Timber and XLam. And, unfortunately two more smaller sawmills hit hard by the phasing out of native logging, both announced closures with the impacts already being felt by mill employees, their families and their communities. From Western Australia, Redmond Sawmill, based near Albany, will be shutting its doors at the end of June after nearly 30 years in business and in the north-eastern corner of Victoria, the timber mill at Corryong, after 87 years of operation (under three generations of the one family), has also decided to close before September. And that’s it for this week.
This week we have for you:
Renewable biomass given a major boostAll coal boilers to be removed from NZ schools
Thanks to a NZ$10million dollar investment, all remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools will be replaced with renewable woody biomass or electric heating sources by 2025 reducing carbon emissions by around 35,400 tonnes over 10 years, Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced.
The move is part of the latest allocation from the Government’s NZ$220 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund which supports the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, which has already achieved an emissions reduction of 422,981 tonnes of carbon over ten years – the equivalent of taking 17,400 cars off the road.
“To date, the School Coal Boiler Replacement Programme has prioritised schools with the oldest and least efficient boilers, but today’s commitment is a major expansion of the programme, and means that around 180 schools with coal boilers will be in a position to prioritise the transition to clean energy,” said James Shaw.
In response to the announcement, 350 Aotearoa has just released a map of state sector buildings across Aotearoa, which outlines the status of fossil-fuelled public buildings - ‘unfunded’, ‘funded’, or ‘transitioned’. It shows that over 750 public buildings still have no funding to transition away from burning fossil fuels - predominantly gas.
“The end of dirty coal in hospitals was a people-powered win - a campaign made up of more than 18,000 New Zealanders. But there was a gas-sized hole in the announcement - over 750 gas-powered public buildings did not receive funding to transition. We require much bigger investments to replace all fossil fuel boilers in schools, and in the wider state sector,” says 350 Aotearoa executive director Alva Feldmeier.
The map shows that roughly 60 fossil-fuel powered hospitals remain unfunded - as do around 600 schools.
NOTE: Recent boiler conversions of schools and public buildings switching from coal to renewables such as biofuels has led to a huge push by forest owners across the country to extract and better utilise residues from harvest operations. Large industrial heat and energy users likewise continue to convert their boilers, as detailed in a story last week.
At a regional level, discussions are underway on how best forest owners and suppliers of wood residues can aggregate and coordinate the collection, transport and processing of woody biomass. As well as providing surety to those looking to convert from burning fossil fuels, there’s a growing recognition that the prevailing supply model needs to change to progressively drive scale and supply chain reliability.
As detailed, the wood residues event being planned with industry for this year, Residues2Revenues 2023, has been set up for the wider forestry industry to provide more detailed information on technologies being used to extract, process and transport biofuels along with more recent case studies on forest companies already heading down this path to co-ordinate supplies on a regional basis. The event runs on 25-26 July 2023. Event details along with the programme information can be seen on the event website, www.woodresidues.events
JK retires after 28 Years with Hyne28 years, 6 months and 1 week. Last Friday (5 May), Jon Kleinschmidt, known fondly throughout the business and industry as ‘JK’, officially retired as Chief Executive Officer of Hyne Timber and XLam.
Jon has held the role of CEO for eleven years, having commenced in the business as the Mill Engineer at the Tuan Softwood Mill near Maryborough Qld in 1994. Throughout nearly three decades with the Hyne Group, Jon has held many roles from Mill Engineer to Division Engineer, Operations Manager to Divisional Manager, and General Manager Development and Technical Services, before being asked by the then Chair to take on the role of General Manager Finance & Administration to fill the role with “someone who knew the business”.
From there, Jon went on to become a joint CEO for about 12 months before being solely appointed to the CEO role. Jon attributes much of his success to the many mentors, exceptional team members, experiences and of course, the focus and support from the Hyne family.
“The fact that Hyne is a family business is what attracted me in the first place. The late Warren Hyne was the Managing Director at that time, and he was a legendary industry and business leader. “Innovation was key and the word ‘can’t’ didn’t exist in the Hyne vocabulary. The ‘let’s have a go’ attitude was typified by the Hyne family. As a young, inquisitive engineer, I was inspired and encouraged from the onset.
“’They said you can’t ‘ultra-high temperature’ dry radiata wood. We did. You can’t convert the market to termite treated timber. We did. Years later, we established the first Cross Laminated Timber plant in Australia, and I am proud of the men and women in our business who continue to drive innovation with creativity and passion.” Jon said.
Jon, in his role as General Manager Development & Technical Services, managed both the Tuan Mill and Tumbarumba Mill redevelopments where the company’s processing capacity was increased more than eight-fold to meet the increasing demand for softwood timber to build the Australian family dream home.
Throughout Jon’s tenure, there has been a rapid and exponential growth in the use and application of technology in the business. A key development being the step change from visual grading to automated machine grading of the structural framing products produced at both Mills.
There have been highs and lows, challenges and wins over the years and an epic win for Jon was being part of the leadership team that successfully steered the Hyne ship through the Global Financial Crisis. “Despite the stress and challenge, I look back on the GFC as a high point for me. There were many who thought that the company couldn’t survive. I made it my mission to ensure that wasn’t the case. Never accept the word ‘can’t!’ Let’s have a go!
“We had to completely restructure, sell assets, strip the business back. It wasn’t easy but we came out the other side. Last year, we celebrated our 140th year with exciting announcements of growth and expansion with new partners, James Jones and Sons. And with the further expansion announcement this year with Rocky Point” Jon said.
Source: Hyne Timber
Environmental foresters descending on RotoruaCalling all Environmental foresters – the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) is pleased to announce that a stunning speaker line-up is now complete for next month’s Environmental Forestry Conference. Running on 20-21 June in Rotorua, strong interest from delegates registering is already been seen.
Be sure to work your delegates from your forest management and operations teams will attend and remember, early-bird registration rates finish next week. click here to register Delegate feedback from 2022 was used to design a diverse group of speakers and topics with a focus on practical case studies.
Conference delegates are also invited to attend a pre-conference workshop hosted by Te Uru Rākau on “The interaction of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) and the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NESPF)”.
FIEA is pleased to have had a strong response to a call for speakers. The keynote speaker is Philip Hope, Chief Executive of the Eastland Wood Council who will deliver a presentation on ‘An Overview of Post-Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery and Resilience of the Eastland Forestry Sector’.
More speaker highlights will be supplied in future issues. See you there!
Carbon Forestry - Interest is running hotWith a ETS legal challenge just announced and several carbon forestry/ETS legislation changes out for consultation, it’s a very dynamic time for investors in the carbon forestry/farming sector. With that interest in the conference and registrations are currently running hot with over 25% of seats already sold for the August event. Click here to register.
This week the Lawyers for Climate Action NZ Inc filed High Court proceedings seeking judicial review of the Climate Change (Auctions, Limits, and Price Controls for Units) Amendment Regulations 2022.
A spokesman for the group said, “The ETS is supposed to act like a tether on our emissions. But, Cabinet signalled that whenever tension starts to go on it will throw out more rope. Unsurprisingly, the price of ETS units has collapsed following the December decision.”
“The Minister received expert advice from the Climate Change Commission which could have resulted in ETS settings that go some way to meeting our climate change obligations. Instead, regulations were weakened, moving us further away from meeting our obligations.”
For more details on the court action: click here.
Potential of satellite broadband for rural NZThe Commerce Commission’s latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand report shows the potential of low Earth orbit satellite (LEO) broadband internet as an option for the 13% of Kiwis who are not able to access fibre.
This report is the first in the new phase of the programme, launched in November 2022, which aims to cover more providers and technologies and expand analysis into rural and remote areas that don’t have access to the fibre network (UFB).
Early test results for Starlink – the LEO provider with the largest customer base – show peak hour download speeds are above 120 megabits per second (Mbps). This compares with an average of 9 Mbps for copper-based ADSL, 25 Mbps for 4G wireless broadband and 33 Mbps for copper-based VDSL in rural areas.
Telecommunications Commissioner, Tristan Gilbertson, says these results confirm that satellite technology is a step-change in performance for consumers in areas that don’t have access to fibre-to-the-home or to their business.
“We’re excited about these results which start to give a clearer picture of how the technologies available to consumers in rural areas are performing – including satellite for the first time.”
Another new dimension of this MBNZ report splits 4G wireless broadband into urban and rural and looks at the distribution of results across both areas. This enables consumers to more accurately compare the performance of 4G wireless broadband against other rural options like Starlink and VDSL.
“We can now see that 4G wireless broadband is, on average, more likely to be slower in rural areas, with average speeds of 25 Mbps compared with 33 Mbps in urban areas. We can also see that rural consumers are more likely to experience speeds below this average – with 59% of rural tests showing speeds slower than 25 Mbps, compared with 44% in urban areas.”
Mr Gilbertson welcomed seven more internet service providers to the programme – Lightwire, Inspire Net, Contact Energy, Farmside, WIZwireless, Unifone and Wireless Nation.
“It’s encouraging to see more providers and their customers participating in the programme. Data from these providers is now feeding into the programme and, as more customers sign up, we’ll be able to report on individual performance and provide insights into more technologies, over a greater range of geographies.”
This report and previous reports are available on the Commission's website.
While the Commission has been monitoring residential broadband performance since 2007, it first launched the MBNZ programme in 2018 when it partnered with SamKnows, a world leader in broadband performance measurement.
Since then, the programme has published quarterly reports to provide independent information that shows broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies to enable consumers to make confident and informed choices about their connectivity and encourages providers to compete on performance, not just price.
The new phase of the MBNZ programme launched on 28 November 2022 broadens the technologies and geographies in scope, with particular emphasis on building towards reporting for 4G, 5G and WISP wireless, and satellite technologies.
WA sawmill closing ahead of native logging banAnother sawmill in southern WA will close before the official ban of native logging comes into effect in 2024.
Redmond Sawmill, based near Albany, will shut its doors at the end of June after nearly 30 years of business, with its current owner having invested an estimated AU$12 million.
Managing director Corey Matters said the company had not been supplied enough logs to stay afloat through the winter. Under the company's contract with Forest Products Commission, it was scheduled to receive 8,000 tonnes of material by December, averaging 660 tonnes per month. In the lead-up to winter, Mr Matters said he had expected more than the monthly average. "During the warmer months, they're supposed to deliver above 660 tonnes [per month] to ensure that we have stock available for those wet months," he said.
"This year, they haven't done that. That's despite the fact that two large sawmills have closed. "We can't stay open, we can't continue to run with no logs, we can't wait around until September … for more logs to come in," Mr Matters said. About 20 workers will be made redundant due to the closure. "The feedback I've been getting is that [the workers will] take a significant pay cut, there's not a lot of high-paying work in Albany for an ex-sawmill type person," Mr Matters said.
"There'll be a significant change for their livelihoods." He said the business was allocated about $1.4 million in compensation from the government as part of the transition package, but it was not enough. "I've owned [Redmond Sawmill] since 2015, I've invested just under $12 million in that time with a big upgrade back in 2019," he said. "That upgrade was on the back of a lot of positive news from the government from about the industry. It was very disappointing, very disappointing to walk away from that industry with a huge financial loss."
Source: ABC Rural
Changes at Koppers Performance ChemicalsKoppers Performance Chemicals has announced that Steve Crimp, (photo) General Manager of Koppers Performance Chemicals New Zealand, has accepted a promotion to the role of Managing Director, Koppers Performance Chemicals Europe. Steve will commence in this role on 1st December 2023 and will be relocating to Denmark.
Steve has been with the business in Australia and New Zealand for 28 years in various leadership roles, including the last 15 years as General Manager of KPC New Zealand. His proven leadership capabilities along with significant operational experience position him well to head their growing European business.
Steve’s relocation and change in role will see a number of changes to the KPC New Zealand business structure. Terry Smith will be promoted to the role of General Manager – Sales. Terry is very well known within the New Zealand timber and timber preservation industries having held various roles over the last 36 years including 22 with KPC (and previously Osmose).
As many will know, Steve has also been heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of their production facility in Wiri Auckland. KPC NZ has hired an experienced Operations Manager who will commence employment later in May and will have 5 – 6 months working alongside Steve ensuring a smooth transition.
Finally, Elias Akle will be taking on the newly expanded role of Managing Director, Performance Chemicals Australasia, with overall responsibility for the Performance Chemicals New Zealand business in addition to the KPC Australian and Asian businesses.
Source: Koppers Performance Chemicals
Corryong sawmill closing in SeptemberThe timber mill at Corryong, in the north-eastern corner of Victoria, will close by September this year, once the existing log stock is milled.
It will be the end of an era for Walkers Sawmill after 87 years of operation under three generations of the family. Current owner, Graham Walker, was in Corryong on Friday to announce the closure of the mill to its 21 employees.
In a Letter to the Editor [Corryong Courier], Mr Walker said “It’s the hardest decision I have ever made but it was the right decision for our employees.”
On April 20, I received a letter from Minister Gayle Tierney regarding our participation in the opt-out scheme to hand back our 2024 saw log license. The letter dated the 15th of April gave us 15 days to accept the offer and it was important for me to consider the long-term employees who could receive the maximum redundancy from the Victorian government.
“If we were to continue business as usual, we had no certainty of saw log quantity from VicForests as they are still embroiled in battle with ‘Friends of the Forest’ and court injunctions and they had only guaranteed 55% of our 19,000m3 allocation”
Should I have chosen this path to continue, the employees would only get their entitlements from our company once June 2024 came and log supplies had dried up.” Mr Walker laid the blame for the mill closure squarely at the feet of the Victorian government.” The decision to end native forest logging is ripping small communities like Corryong apart,” he said.”
Our business has been supporting wages since 1965 and the flow-on effect to all our suppliers will be felt heavily as over $4.5-5m per year was going into the economy and supporting other businesses.” Towong mayor, Cr Andrew Whitehead, said that because of Corryong’s low population and remoteness the loss of a job there had a far greater impact than in larger towns and cities.
Source: Australian Rural & Regional News
Dive in log prices making harvesting uneconomicNZ log prices dropped 14 percent between March and April as China's usual seasonal increase in consumption failed to materialise.
Logging exporters are being blamed for the current dive in log prices to a level where harvesting is uneconomic. Between March and April log prices dropped 14 percent to $112 - $115 for an A-grade log.
Laurie Forestry managing director Allan Laurie said prices needed to be "north of $120" to be economic for harvesters. Laurie said the situation, which had happened before, was incredibly frustrating because it was predictable and avoidable.
He said it was obvious months ago that China's usual seasonal increase in consumption was not happening, with the market signals pointing to China's construction boom ending. "Despite the fact that some of those fundamentals were working downward during the first quarter of this year, New Zealand exporters in the market were trying to push prices up," he said.
"That reaches a tipping point where the market simply says 'we have enough wood, if you want to sell us more, you're going to need to discount it'. Some ships were on the water without contracts, without letters of credit," he said, meaning exporters had to accept whatever price was being offered for the logs on arrival in China.
Laurie said the drop in demand had pushed prices down to levels where forest owners should shut their gates.
"We can't recommend that a forester continues to harvest when prices are much below where they should be to achieve a reasonable return. So, you've got to have that same conversation with the contractors and it becomes extremely messy and difficult trying to find solutions to keep people working.
"We should have maintained a much more realistic price in the market and had a stable price situation in New Zealand, [then] we wouldn't see these peaks and troughs that we're currently seeing." Laurie said the contractors and forest workers needed to be considered much more in the equation.
"It's about a holistic approach and about looking after everybody to ensure that we've got good stability and offer good job opportunities to New Zealanders ... these fluctuations do cause a great deal of anxiety and to see people not working, that's what we need to fix," he said.
Laurie is recommending "a sit-down review amongst key players" to implement a strategic approach to "scour the planet for more markets".
First drone deliveries for NZNevada-based drone delivery firm SkyDrop will begin New Zealand’s first pizza and courier package deliveries by drone following Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval. The company is the first in the country to receive CAA approval for live store to door drone delivery, including “certain beyond visual line of sight operations”.
First deliveries are set to begin in Huntly where SkyDrop will launch a drone hub. It’s been reported this is expected to take place in the coming months. The company says it marks a major milestone in its quest to make drone delivery accessible to larger populations.
The CAA granted the approval after conducting a thorough review of SkyDrop’s technology and operating procedures. Underpinning the approval is safety technology including an onboard parachute recovery system which was reviewed by the CAA.
It follows years of extensive testing in the United States and New Zealand. SkyDrop has also received approvals from Waikato District Council following engagement with local stakeholders including the Waahi Pa marae who named a SkyDrop drone Te Kaahu (The Hawk).
SkyDrop says drones will enable speedier and cheaper deliveries for local communities that also reduces traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions. The company says the approval lays the foundation to scale because the risk assessment method can be adapted to additional locations to build a nationwide network of drone hubs across New Zealand.
It will also help with expansion in Australia, Canada, and the European Union member countries who all use the JARUS SORA method, it says. SkyDrop founder and chief executive Matthew Sweeny says the company is excited to work with the CAA to make New Zealand the “innovation leader in speedier, cheaper, and greener last-mile drone delivery”.
“This approval is a groundbreaking milestone for SkyDrop, and the drone delivery industry. SkyDrop is set to launch regular drone deliveries to the nearly 10,000 people and businesses in Huntly,” he says.
New FWPA Head of Marketing & CommunicationsForest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has appointed Sarah Downey as the new Head of Marketing and Communications. Sarah has been with the organisation and in the role of Senior Marketing and Communications Manager since 2021. Andrew Leighton, CEO of FWPA said Sarah had shown leadership and exemplary performance in her current role, quickly grasping the nuances of both the organisation and industry.
“Sarah was the ideal choice. She is familiar with the role and all elements of FWPA’s diverse range of marketing programs. Her knowledge and experience will ensure a seamless transition for the organisation. “The step up for Sarah also comes at an important time in our organisation’s future as we roll out our new strategic plan”, said Andrew.
Sarah stated, “I’m thrilled to take on the role and would like to thank Andrew and the board for their confidence in offering me the position. “FWPA is an incredible organisation that plays a critical part in both educating and promoting the benefits of wood and wood products. “I love the diversity of the industry, the people, and the many ways we engage with our stakeholders. It’s always interesting and challenging. “
Sarah officially commences her new position on 22 May. “On behalf of everyone at FWPA we congratulate Sarah and look forward to working with and supporting her in her new role,” said Andrew.
Space Intelligence to map land cover changesEverland, a company representing the largest portfolio of high quality REDD+ forest conservation projects in the world, has named Space Intelligence as its main data partner. Everland will use the state-of-the-art technology and data from Space Intelligence to build a comprehensive view of changes in land cover across three continents covering a portfolio of site-based REDD+ projects and their surrounding regions.
“Working with Space Intelligence will help us extend our capabilities and further our goal of using data to promote REDD+ as a scalable mechanism to deliver conservation returns and benefits to communities whose livelihoods depend on healthy forests and the ecosystem services they safeguard,” said Everland President Josh Tosteson.
“Through this multi-year partnership, we will mutually pursue an ambitious evidence-based research agenda focused on assessing the effectiveness of the REDD+ mechanism in realising measurable forest conservation outcomes.” Space Intelligence is currently providing mapping services for a portfolio of projects across Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
“We’ve worked with the Everland team on individual projects for a number of years. We’re excited to be moving forward to work with Everland to accelerate our global impact in a long-term partnership” said chief executive Dr Murray Collins.
Source: Space Intelligence
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... and one to end the week on ... flight announcement
A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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