4 November 2020

Tumbarumba's Hyne Timber welcomes $3 million support, but still needs logs

| Edwina Mason
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Robots at Hyne Timber's Tumbarumba mill.

Robots installed at Hyne Timber’s Tumbarumba mill last year – prior to the Black Summer bushfires – have proven crucial to its recovery efforts. Photo: Supplied.

The news has been good for Hyne Timber in Tumbarumba during the past week, but it’s not out of the woods yet, so to speak.

The softwood timber processing company welcomed the announcement of almost $3 million in NSW Government support for bushfire recovery at its Tumbarumba Mill.

But reeling from a loss of timber to the fires, the company is still sweating bullets trying to secure vital Australian logs which are currently being exported overseas.

So in the meantime, it’s knuckling down.

Hyne Timber chief executive officer Jon Kleinschmidt said the past summer’s bushfires impacted 40 per cent of the mill’s local log feedstock and optimisation is now critical to saw the highest possible quality timber from every log processed.

He said the $3 million in funding from stream two of the NSW Government’s Bushfire Industry Recovery Package would cover 50 per cent of the cost of these efforts.

Jon Kleinschmidt and Gladys Berejiklian during a tour of Hyne Timber mill in Tumbarumba.

Hyne Timber chief executive officer Jon Kleinschmidt (left) with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) during a tour of the Tumbarumba mill earlier in 2020. Photo: Supplied.

“Without NSW Government support we wouldn’t be able to co-invest in a number of upgrades and innovative solutions,” said Mr Kleinschmidt.

The Hyne Timber Tumbarumba Mill is the largest in Australia, employs around 200 local people and produces, onsite, a daily volume of structural framing that could stretch from Tumbarumba to Melbourne.

“It is critical we improve efficiencies, keep people in jobs and keep up the supply of quality, renewable plantation pine for the building sector,” said Mr Kleinschmidt.

He added that the funding is heartily welcomed.

“It’s great to be able to deliver some positive news to the company’s team members, its customers and the community,” he said.

“As part of the optimisation program of works, we will be recruiting a dedicated program manager and, as always, we are committed to engaging local trades such as electrical and plumbing services, ensuring maximum flow-on benefits to our bushfire impacted community.”

That said, the company is seeking further government support for freight or other cost offsetting to assist with getting additional logs to the mill from outside the viable freight zone.

Mr Kleinschmidt said through discussions with private growers in Victoria and South Australia, Hyne Timber has confirmed at least 441,000 cubic metres of sustainably grown plantation pine can be made available to the mill during the next three years.

Currently, these logs are being exported to China.

READ ALSO Tumba timber mill’s future hangs in the balance

An independent economic report by REMPLAN indicates that by redirecting this amount of plantation pine to Tumbarumba during the next three years, a further 79 jobs will be retained in Tumbarumba alone.

“REMPLAN’s economic analysis shows the impact of the bushfires, without getting additional logs to the Tumbarumba Mill, is significant,” said Mr Kleinschmidt. “For the town of Tumbarumba, the loss in gross revenue during the next three years [without the logs] is $177 million, with a loss of 137 jobs.

“Hyne will pay $42 million of the cost of these interstate logs, but the additional freight costs to divert this resource from export to Tumbarumba is just under $30 million.”

Mr Kleinschmidt added that while logs are exported and jobs are lost in regional NSW as a result of the Black Summer bushfires, the timber market will need to be supplied by imported goods.

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