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Timber investment boosts confidence in South Australia forestry industry

Primary Industries

A $100m investment by Timberlink into its sawmills will increase regional manufacturing jobs and strengthen Australia’s timber supply.

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The company’s program to upgrade its Tarpeena and Bell Bay sawmill facilities will increase the processing capacity of Timberlink by 15 per cent, highlighting the continued recovery of the Australian forestry sector.

The main focus of the investment is in Tarpeena, in the southeast of South Australia, where a state-of-the-art saw line, stacker and edger will be installed, alongside additional contraflow and batch kilns to dry timber.

Major infrastructure changes, such as road networks and storage facilities, will be undertaken in both South Australia and Tasmania, while new planer mill equipment and a contraflow kiln will be installed at Bell Bay, Tasmania.

Timberlink CEO Ian Tyson said the investment was a great day for Australian manufacturing.

“We are ensuring that all aspects of the business are internationally competitive to secure our long-term future, and this significant investment will secure Timberlink’s position as one of Australasia’s leading softwood sawmillers,” he said.

The announcement comes at a time of steady recovery for the forestry sector. The Australian market has been battling against a number of inhibiting factors, such as cheaper imports, inefficient machinery and the Global Financial Crisis’ effect on the housing market.

Timberlink Chairman David Brand said the new investment signals that those times are behind the timber industry.

“This is a substantial re-investment in the Timberlink mill facilities and continues to demonstrate the strong recovery of the Australian forestry sector under institutional investor ownership,” Brand said.

“Timberlink has become a leading wood products business, and I expect it will continue to innovate and grow, creating new manufacturing jobs in regional areas, while increasing the supply of timber in Australia.”

South Australia has 179,000 hectares of hardwood and software plantations managed by 21 owners.

About $2.6 billion worth of wood and paper products are produced within South Australia annually and the sector employs 13,000 people directly and indirectly across the state.

Key parties in the timber industry – like the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) – have welcomed the move.

“This $100 million investment shows just how much Timberlink takes innovation seriously and how committed the business is to the timber industry and the communities it operates in,” said AFPA CEO Ross Hampton.

“It demonstrates confidence in the sector, will secure over 1350 direct and indirect jobs in regional Australia, as well as nearly 300 jobs during the construction phase, and will support timber supply for Australia’s construction industry.”

Timberlink, which also operates a sawmill in Blenheim, New Zealand, is parented by New Forests, a Sydney-based multi-national institutional investment manager.

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