Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett

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    Minister says wood chip mill a boost for Great Southern

    5/09/2000 10:00 AM
     
    5/9/00

    The first sod of ground at a site for a new $50 million plantation wood fibre chip mill for the Great Southern region was turned today by Resources Development Minister Colin Barnett.

    Mr Barnett said the project - a joint venture between Oji Paper and Itochu Corporation of Japan - would create about 230 new jobs and provide a major boost for the region’s economy.

    He said the State Government was establishing a new multi-user road, rail and port infrastructure in the region to encourage the development of the plantation wood processing industry and other related value-adding projects in the Down Road area near the Mirambeena Industrial Estate.

    It was the Government’s proper role to develop multi-user infrastructure to support developing industries around the State.

    “The new infrastructure will be available to all users on a commercial, user-pays basis and no financial assistance will be given by the State Government to the companies involved in developing the wood chip mill project,“ Mr Barnett said.

    “Provision of the multi-user infrastructure in the region is being done by State Government agencies including Westrail, Main Roads WA and the Albany Port Authority.

    “It will include construction of a rail spur line, upgrading roads and a new berth at the Port of Albany. “

    Mr Barnett said the wood chip mill represented a significant transition from the logging of traditional native timber to the processing of renewable hardwood-plantation timber in this part of the State.

    “An estimated 70,000 ha of plantation bluegums are currently growing in the Great Southern,” Mr Barnett said.

    “A significant proportion of these plantations will be harvested and the logs trucked to the new woodchip mill, located near the Mirambeena Industrial Estate, off Down Road, about 15 km north of Albany.”

    Mr Barnett said production from the woodchip mill was expected to start in September 2001 at a rate of about 400,000 tonnes a year.

    He said the mill would reach full capacity of a million tonnes a year in 2007, providing Western Australia with annual export earnings of $80 million (based on the present-day $80 per tonne for woodchips).

    By the end of 2010 other companies were expected to be producing at least the same amount of woodchips in the Great Southern as Oji/Itochu.

    “While all woodchips from the Oji/Itochu joint venture will be exported to Japan and used as a feedstock for the manufacture of quality paper, I remain optimistic that downstream wood-processing industries will eventually emerge in the South-West/Great Southern region,” Mr Barnett said.

    “Such industries may provide material for the production of particle and laminated products - in the years ahead.”

    Mr Barnett said the State Government was providing $5 million worth of infrastructure to assist in the transportation of forestry timber to the mill and for the delivery of the woodchips to the Albany wharf for export.

    He said the State Government support being paid directly to Government agencies included:
    • the extension of Down Road to the mill site costing $2.4 million;
    • a $2.15 million rail spurline which would initially service the chip mill and ultimately be extended to service the greater Mirambeena Industrial Estate; and -
    • $8.1 million constructing Berth 6 at the port of Albany which would cater for the export of all woodchips in the Great Southern region. $5.1 million of this was being provided by the Port Authority of Albany.

    Mr Barnett said no State Government financial assistance would be given to private companies developing the wood chip mill project and the infrastructure would ultimately be paid for by those using it.

    He said this was the type of infrastructure assistance which was proper for governments to fund and develop.

    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699