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Study reveals growth potential for timber industry

4 September 2023

A new study shows upgrading Kinleith Mill’s energy infrastructure and building a new large-scale sawmill to supply timber and bespoke engineered mass-timber products could provide hundreds of jobs and boost the economy, says Forestry Minister Peeni Henare.

The Wood Beca study, a project between the Government and Oji Fibre Solutions, showed that upgrading the mill could create 200 jobs per year and generate upwards of $566 million in additional GDP per annum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65,000 tonnes of CO2- equivalent per annum.

The Kinleith Mill is a key strategic asset for Aotearoa New Zealand, and one of our largest industrial sites. It requires some upgrades of it’s energy infrastructure to remain competitive, and this presented an opportunity for Government to partner with OjiFS to investigate how a redevelopment could deliver on key Government objectives through the creation of a bio-hub

“This Government is committed to investing in our people by creating more jobs,” Peeni Henare said.

“The Government’s record is 22,000 more jobs at the start of 2023 alone, a total of 113,000 more Kiwis in work since June 2022. All of our regions have seen good economic growth under this Government.

“Earlier this year I announced a $57 million fund would enable the Government to partner with wood processors to co-invest in wood processing capacity to create products like sawn structural timber and engineered wood. 

“This could help make upgrading the Kinleith Mill a reality if it can raise the funds needed.

“The Government wants to see more logs processed onshore, help move our forestry sector from volume to value, lift our economic performance and resilience and create high-wage jobs in our regions,” Peeni Henare said.

The sawmill output could also help to increase the quantity of carbon stored in wood and create low-emission products for use in building and construction.

Depending on the staging and configuration of the possible options, the construction phase could contribute $2.5 billion of additional GDP over a three-year period.

“I’m excited by the potential of this project to help build a high-value, high-wage and low-emissions economy in line with the vision set with the sector in the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan,” Peeni Henare said.

In early 2022, TUR released the Wood Fibre Futures Project which included business cases on sawmills, solid fuel, bio-crude and liquid biofuel.

TUR is partnering with private companies and government agencies to explore the feasibility of additional wood processing, bioenergy and bio-products.

Oji Fibre Solutions is a world-leader in pulp, paper and packaging products, and the Kinleith Mill employs more than 500 people in the South Waikato.

Source: Inside Government NZ

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