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Gunns wants 2 million GMt/a of hardwood supply from native forests for its Tas pulp mill

Posted by gmarkets on 28 September, 2007

As at June 2005, there was a total of 403,256 hectares of gazetted Private Timber Reserves. In addition, excluding Gunns’ owned or managed plantation estate on private land, there was 50,000ha of hardwood plantation and 76,000ha of softwood plantation on private land in Tasmania, reported (2/4/2007). Because of the speculative nature of negotiating and purchasing a supply of wood from third party landowners, the average planning horizon for third party private wood supply was typically less than 12 months.

Sources of pulpwood: Gunns understands Forestry Tasmania manages approximately 1.5 million hectares of public land in Tasmania, of which 830,000ha is available for wood production. In addition, Forestry Tasmania manages approximately 100,000ha of plantations. Gunns intends to secure a supply of 2 million GMt/a of hardwood supply from native forests and plantations under a long-term supply contract with Forestry Tasmania.

Wood supply modelling: Gunns undertook a comprehensive, peer-reviewed wood supply modelling process. Some key outcomes of this modelling were:

  • the pulp mill intake of pulp wood was well below the 5-7 million GMt/a of wood potentially available in Tasmania; and
  • the majority of the resource will, over time, be sourced from the northeast of Tasmania.

Other matters: Tasmanian forests are required to be harvested in accordance with the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) and the Tasmanian Forest Practices Act 1985. Pulpwood will be sourced from Tasmanian forests. The RFA remains in force until 8 November 2017, but provides for the Australian and Tasmanian governments to agree to extending its duration during the third five-yearly review. This review is due to commence in 2012. In the unlikely event that the RFA is not renewed beyond 2017, the harvesting of Tasmania’s forests will continue in accordance with Tasmania’s and the Commonwealth’s environment protection, forestry and national parks and reserve legislation.

Individual operations: Furthermore, individual forestry operations may require referral and potential assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is if there is no RFA in force. This referral does not include the impact of forestry operations undertaken for the supply of pulpwood to the pulp mill.

On the horizon: The planning horizon for timber harvesting operations referred to above make it impossible to meaningfully predict where forestry operations will take place after 2017 for the purpose of supplying pulpwood to the mill. Accordingly, it is speculative to consider that any forestry operations undertaken after 2017 for the purpose of supplying pulpwood to the mill are likely to have a significant impact on matters protected by the EPBC Act. For these reasons, the harvesting of Tasmanian forests for supplying wood to the pulp mill is not a part of the referred action. The majority of pulpwood will be sourced from forests managed in accordance with the Australian Forestry Standard which is endorsed under the international forest certification system PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes).

Reference: Title of Referral: Gunns Limited/Manufacturing/Bell Bay/TAS/Kraft Pulp Mill and ancillary chemical production and infrastructure; date received: 02 Apr 2007; reference number: 2007/3385. Referring party: Les Baker, Project Manager, Gunns Limited, PO Box 572, Launceston Tasmania 7250, ph: (03) 6335 5201 or (03) 6331 7587. Contact: George Town Council (pulp mill site and effluent outfall), Ngaire McCrindle, General Manager; Launceston City Council (water supply), Frank Dixon, General Manager; West Tamar Council (wharf), Ian Pierce, General Manager.

Erisk Net, 2/4/2007


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