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New CLT plant’s commissioning brought forward

4 May 2021

The opening of a new wood processing plant in Rotorua in a few weeks will help alleviate New Zealand’s timber shortage, say Red Stag group CEO, Marty Verry. The plant, says Verry, will add five percent to the capacity of the New Zealand wood processing sector. That equates to around two thousand dwelling units, or most of the estimated shortfall in current timber supply.

The factory will produce cross laminated timber, or CLT as it is commonly referred to. CLT is a new ‘mass timber’ construction product being adopted rapidly worldwide. It is made by gluing successive layers of timber laid crossways over the layer below, to form large panels of three, five or seven layers of timber thick. The rigid engineered timber panels are then precision cut by CNC machines in factory and rapidly assembled on site.

In Red Stag’s case the CLT panels can exceed 16 meters by 4 metres in size, making for very fast construction and few connections. Kaianga Ora is a major user in New Zealand and use internationally is widespread. Google last week broke ground on its first mass timber building in Silicon Valley using CLT.

“We now have the last of the European technicians out of MIQ and doing the final commissioning of the plant. We’re going to bring forward the opening to May to help the timber shortage.”

Costing NZ$50 million, the CLT factory is co-located with the Southern Hemisphere’s largest sawmill, Red Stag, in Rotorua. It will employ forty people initially, rising to double that over time, and is part-funded by a $15 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Verry doesn’t expect all of the CLT factory’s capacity to be used in residential units though as there is already a waiting list of other projects planning to use it, including retirement villages, student accommodation, office buildings, educational facilities and cultural buildings.

“CLT has a value sweet spot in large-format structures, buildings of three storeys or more, and for mid-floors in terraced housing built to the NZS 3604 standard. Apartment buildings and fast-to-install CLT mid-floors will be our residential focus areas.”

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