Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei has welcomed Marubeni’s closer involvement with the Western Australian woodchip industry.
“Marubeni is a major trading house on the world scene. It has been involved in the WA woodchip industry from the outset some 25 years ago and the company has also had a close association with WA in trading other resources such as iron ore,” Mr Omodei said.
“Their purchase of Wesfarmers woodchip and plantation interests will guarantee a market for WA’s plantation woodchips and is likely to increase the potential for a pulp mill in WA in the future.
“Marubeni’s assurance of continued employment for all those currently employed by Wesfarmers in treefarming and woodchipping will be welcomed by the families and communities involved.”
Mr Omodei said that the sale of Wesfarmers’ woodchip interests would not change the accelerated transition from native forest to plantation woodchip exports.
Details of that transition were announced earlier this year and had been written into the supply contracts with Japanese customers.
Nor would it influence the Government’s decision to significantly reduce karri sawlog production and to stop all karri old growth logging after 2003.
Wesfarmers had been reviewing its involvement in woodchips, plantations, and the sawn timber industry for some time.
It was encouraging that Marubeni had decided to become involved in the supply side of woodchips as well as the trading.
“The Government’s major objective now is to ensure that the restructure of the timber industry results in more value-adding and the creation of more employment from smaller volumes of native hardwoods,” Mr Omodei said.
“We are confident that we can achieve this before the end of 2003 when there will be a significant change in the amount of sawn timber harvested from native forests.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700