Timber future is now

Timber future is now

NeXTimber’s Australia’s first Radiata Pine Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue-Laminated Timber (GLT) manufacturing facility has officially opened in Tarpeena.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas officially opened the facility, and was joined by Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Development and Forestry Clare Scriven, South Australian Forestry Product Association chief executive officer Nathan Paine, Forest Industry Advisory Council of South Australia co-chair Tammy Auld and Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.

The new $70m investment in the facility was supported by a $2m grant by the State Government under the Strategic Business Round 2020 of the Government of South Australia’s Regional Growth Fund.

Premier Malinauskas received a tour of the facility from Timberlink’s EGM Sales, Marketing and Corporate Affairs officer David Oliver before sitting down for a lunch attended by around 300 other people.

A welcome to country was conducted by local Boandik Elder Uncle Ken Jones followed by speeches from Mr Oliver, Minister Scriven, Premier Malinauskas and an address read on behalf of absent Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin.

Mr Oliver said the facility is well positioned to play their part in supporting the Australian Government’s COP28 commitment to increase the use of timber in the built environment by 2030.

“We are excited to be providing builders, specifiers and developers with a sustainable alternative for concrete and steel, this being Australian made mass timber,” he said.

“This facility will help to support the production of mass timber product usage in construction in Australia and beyond, assisting in increasing our nation’s sovereign capability to manufacture these products, reducing the rise in imports.

“Timber stores carbon for the life of the product, not just the life of the tree.

By bringing new timber products to market, we can store more carbon in the build environment.

“We have really culminated in five years of work to get to this stage, we are going to deliver buildings, skyscrapers from this facility across the laminated timber plant.

“We have got lots of international interest, one of our customers from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is visiting in two weeks time, there is a ‘small’ trillion dollar project they are involved in and they are looking to actually build in a more sustainable way.

“There is local and international interest in this facility, it is really a unique asset for South Australia.”

Minister Scriven reflected on her time in the forestry industry prior to parliament and how far it has come to be able to provide a CLT and GLT manufacturing facility in the Limestone Coast region.

“I worked in the forestry industry before I entered parliament and it was about the same time that some of the changes to the building codes were going through that would actually allow taller, timber based buildings,” she said.

“To go from there to seeing there is now such a demand in Australia that justifies this hug investment in this plant is really, really satisfying.

“It presents tremendous opportunities for value adding, for product diversification and for market expansion for our forest industries as well as contributing to the construction of taller and more complex timber buildings.

“It is wonderful that we can be part of improving the sustainability of the built environment while also providing amazing opportunities and benefits to our local regional economy here and the economy of the whole state.”

Premier Malinasukas said the Tarpeena facility was a real life demonstration of how thoughtful government policy interacting with innovation from industry using their private capital can capitalise decarbonisation opportunity in a way that delivers for working people.

“Now what we have got here is a highly productive facility capitalising decarbonisation on the global economy by producing construction supplies using fibre produced locally,” he said.

“This is actually quite important, in fact it is a demonstration not just to the local industry but to the state at large, there is opportunity in decarbonisation, it can deliver high quality jobs if we have got thoughtful policy and innovation leadership from the private sector.

“I think government has a responsibility to show leadership in the market where we believe there are products being produced locally that deliver an outcome for our economy and CLT and GLT is a good example of that.

“This is taking local fibre, using local labour to value add to it into a high quality product that could be a replacement for structural steel.

“We make structural steel in South Australia, we want to use that too but a lot of it is imported so we so see an opportunity there and that is something we want to work on.”

Premier Malinauskas said South Australia has the unique opportunity to value add on natural resources including timber produced by the facility to propel the standard of living and deliver a better quality of life for the future generations.

“The government should be doing our bit to make sure we are investing in the training, the skills and the research to make sure that that value add continues,” he said.

“Our responsibility is to invest in the innovation and research in conjuction with industry to make sure you can keep doing your work without the fear the next group of saw doctors is not coming 

“Through that type of partnership this region can lead which is why we are so interested in it because the value add is the decarbonisation and it is the execution of the use of our resources to our advantage to deliver a better standard of living.

“This actually matters and it is really important so I want to commend everyone that has been invested in this effort up until this point.

“I sincerely hope the future of Timberlink continues to grow in South Australia, not just for the benefit of our state but quite frankly for the rest of the country because (in) my words, we need it.”

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