Forico, a subsidiary of New Forests, has invested $9.5 million dollars to refurbish and re-launch the previously Gunns-owned Surrey Hills Mill located about 30 kilometres south of Burnie in Tasmania.
The reopening of the woodchip mill which was dormant since its closure in 2010 should be considered a good sign that Tasmania’s plantation industry is growing confidence in the forestry industry under the Hodgman Liberal Government, said Minister for Resources Paul Harriss.
“We have a plan to rebuild the forest industry to drive economic growth and create jobs and the latest figures show our plan is working. Forico’s Surrey Hills mill will be a key driver of growth for the forest industry. It will support around 100 direct and indirect jobs through the North West including mill workers, contractors, harvesters and haulage operators,” the Minster said.
“The mill will initially add up to 1.2 million green tonnes per year of processing capacity to the North West and importantly, provides access for private plantation owners to drive a new round of growth in our renewable forest industries.”
Forico expects to export 750,000 tonnes of wood products within 12 months. The mill has the capacity to produce 1.6 million tonnes of wood products if demand for plantation wood chips continues to grow.
Forico is the largest forestry investor in Australia and owns $2.75 billion worth of forestry assets across the country including the Surrey Hills woodchip mill, the TasWood softwood estate and a sawmill at Bell Bay.
“It’s important to remember just how big a role the private sector plays in Tasmania’s forest industry. Tasmania’s private forest estate already produces around 60 per cent of the State’s production of forest products and when the current private plantations go into full production, that number will increase to 75 per cent,” the Minister said.
“We are backing our forestry industry and providing certainty to the sector so they can capitalise on the gains we are seeing. We welcome the substantial investment by Forico and we are doing all we can to assist the company to get on with the job.”