by | Jun 15, 2022

Timberlink unveils new technology at Bell Bay 

Federal Member for Bass, Bridget Archer recently visited Timberlink’s manufacturing facility at Bell Bay for the unveiling of a new world-class Green Mill Vision Scanning System. 

Timberlink’s Site Manufacturing Manager Scott Freeman (left) and Timberlink’s EGM Sales, Marketing and Corporate Affairs David Oliver (right), with Minister Bridget Archer (centre) at Bell Bay.

The $5.5 million co-investment for the upgrade and modernisation of Tasmania’s largest softwood timber manufacturing plant was supported by $3.5 million from the Federal Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Community Development Grants Program. 

The new Vision Scanning System is designed to optimise every piece of timber and maximise the production of outdoor treated timber for the construction of decks and pergolas. 

The Bell Bay Softwood Mill currently employs 200 people and provides a value-add of $150 million to the George Town economy, Timberlink’s Executive General Manager for Sales, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, David Oliver said at the unveiling.

“The upgrade will increase the volume of high-grade timber sourced from renewable pine plantations and create a workplace of the future, with high tech machinery improving accuracy, safety, and job security.”

“Timberlink’s manufacturing operations are environmentally sustainable, provide vital local jobs and economic expenditure, and produce timber locally for use in the housing and construction industry in Tasmania and throughout Australia,” Mr Oliver said.

Minister Archer also said that growing manufacturing capability and securing jobs in the region was all part of her plan for northern Tasmania. 

“When you have a strong economy and sound economic management, you can make investments to grow our economy and build a stronger future for the community.” 

“I was a strong advocate for this investment and it is great to join with Timberlink to celebrate the delivery of a word-class facility and the jobs it has secured for northern Tasmania,” Minister Archer said.

Timberlink unveils world-class Green Mill Vision Scanning System at Bell Bay.

This investment supports a major upgrade recently announced by Timberlink of a $63 million investment to increase timber manufacturing in Tasmania by 50 per cent by 2025, and also increase Australia’s sovereign capacity to manufacture timber and build Australian homes. 

$5.4 million expansion for Timberlink

Timberlink will soon expand its growing mill even further while also cutting down the need to transport timber off-site for treatment in a major $5.4 million project. Timberlink has revealed plans to open an onsite Light Organic Solvent Preservative timber treatment plant in January 2023, which will be developed alongside a $63 million project already underway in Tarpeena. 

“The co-location of a NeXTimber Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (GLT) Plant on the same site makes this facility unique in Australia,” a spokesperson said in a recent Advertiser report. Recent development plans that were submitted to PlanSA said that the mill is currently heavily reliant on off-site timber treatment.

“Timberlink does not currently treat timber on the Tarpeena site and therefore trucks collect the timber to be taken off-site for treatment, with some treated timber returning to the Tarpeena site. The proposed timber treatment facility will replace the off-site treatment with a facility constructed in the north-eastern corner of the site,” the plans read.

Work has already begun on the first combined Cross Laminated Timber and Glue Laminated Timber manufacturing plant at the site, which is set to be completed by September next year.

The mill currently employs roughly 200 people and will add 27 full-time employees, with the “potential to increase to 50” jobs as the CLT and GLT plant “begins to reach capacity”, according to the report. An additional three full-time jobs will be created on completion of the new treatment plant. According to the development plans, the treatment plant would initially run on one shift per day but has the capacity to run up to 24 hours per day when required.

“The LOSP timber treatment plant is expected to process 25,000m³ of timber per year and is timber that is currently sawn on site,” the report said.

AFPA welcomes mandate to boost timber supply

Australia’s forest industries welcome the new Albanese Government Ministry’s mandate to turbocharge the nation’s One Billion Trees goal to tackle climate change and secure Australia’s future timber and fibre needs.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer, Ross Hampton, said Australia’s renewable forest industries looked forward to working with the Albanese Government to implement an ambitious forestry policy agenda Labor took to the election to deliver more than $300 million in new investment.

“The Albanese Government was elected with a mandate to turbocharge Australia’s goal to plant one billion timber plantation trees by 2030 in order to boost domestic timber supply and harness the climate change mitigation opportunities our industries offer,” Mr Hampton said.

“AFPA congratulates the new Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Murray Watt, who has been a passionate advocate for regional Australia and primary industries in his previous role of Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, and we look forward to working with Minister Watt on implementing these important initiatives,” he said.

During the election campaign, Federal Labor matched the Coalition’s pledge to deliver:

  • $100 million for a National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) to be headquartered in Launceston.
  • $86 million in grants to support the establishment costs of new timber plantations.
  • $112.9 million in innovation grants for timber processors to make the most of existing resources and create new manufacturing jobs.

On top of this, Labor also committed $10 million for skills and training programs within the forest sector, and backed native forestry jobs with a commitment to no more forest lock-ups, Mr Hampton pointed out.

“We look forward to working with the Albanese Government to realise the full potential of Australia’s renewable forest industries. We would also like to thank the former Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Julie Collins, for her leadership in the portfolio and we are pleased that she will retain a key interest in the timber and forestry sector in her new role of Housing Minister,” Mr Hampton concluded.