The local timber industry in the Snowy Valleys is left mainly unaffected by a recent ban on New South Wales timber being imported to China.
Just before Christmas, China suspended imports of timber from NSW and Western Australia, with local customs officers reporting to have found pests in cargoes from those states.
The ban followed on from a separate ban in November, in which China indefinitely suspended imports of all Victorian timber logs after an unofficial ban on Australian exports came into force.
Site Manager of the Tumut AKD Mill, Rab Green, said that the company deals primarily within Australia so the ban hasn’t had any significant impact on them.
Mr Green said there could be potential for timber that was meant to go to China to be utilised at the mill instead of going overseas, but this is not a focus right now – AKD’s focus remains on the ongoing salvage operation, which Mr Green said is “nearing its end.”
Since last February, Tumut’s AKD mill has been working in overdrive, processing as much burnt timber as possible that was burnt during the Dunns Road bushfire.
The burnt trees were said to have a harvest time frame of around 12 months before they deteriorated, depending on weather conditions and how burnt the logs were.
Tumbarumba’s Hyne Mill is also facing no direct impact from the China ban, because it doesn’t own or export log.
“However, for the last 12 months, we have been seeking an avenue to apply for Government support to divert sawlogs logs to the Tumbarumba Mill which were otherwise destined for China and currently have no home,” Hyne’s Manager of Strategic Relations, Katie Fowden, said.
“The logs are outside of our viable freighting distance and the added costs cannot be absorbed or passed onto customers.
“The bushfires decimated 40 per cent of our feedstock and while Government support to optimise the $200M mill is great, it doesn’t assist in getting more logs to the mill, keeping more people in jobs, keeping supply of timber for the construction sector and also the volumes of much needed by-product for customers such as Visy in Tumut.”
An independent economic analysis by REMPLAN has determined that for every $1 of Government support to divert logs to Tumbarumba, there will be $8 retained in revenue across NSW which otherwise wouldn’t exist, Ms Fowden said.
“193 jobs will be supported across NSW and a further 63 in the Victorian transport sector. $244M in gross revenue across NSW will be retained, $144M of which will be in Tumbarumba,” she added.
“There is no avenue to apply for this Government bushfire recovery assistance at present and now with the China ban on exports, there is support for those impacted to find alternative export markets but not domestic markets.”
VISY did not respond to The Times’ enquiries in time for publication.