Pulp mill could create 3100 jobs: report

A REPORT on the state's hardwood plantation estate points to a Tamar Valley pulp mill as the most practical solution for realising the value of the state's 236,000 hectares of timber plantations.

A review of the state's plantations started in September was led by former federal resources minister Martin Ferguson and consulted the state's plantation owners and investors.

Mr Ferguson said the report found that Tasmania's plantations represented one-quarter of Australia's total hardwood estate, which could sustainably generate between 2.5 and 3 million tonnes of wood each year.

He said the biggest return on these plantations would be a cost-competitive pulp mill, over log exports, woodchip, bio-fuel, and engineered wood product possibilities.

Mr Ferguson said the mill would create 3100 direct and indirect jobs, of which 2600 would be in Northern Tasmania, and could contribute $9.9 billion to gross state product and $3.7 billion to gross regional product in the North.

Gunns' receivers KordaMentha put the pulp mill site and building permits on the market last month and expressions of interest will close later this month.

Mr Ferguson said state and federal political parties needed to work together and send a message that there was no sovereign risk with the project to interstate and overseas investors.

Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green said the report was not only for the government to understand Tasmania's hardwood plantations, but for potential investors to understand the resource.

He said the pulp mill would be a ``game changer'' for the state's economy.

Greens Primary Industries spokesman Kim Booth labelled the report ``pulp fiction'' and a hoax for investors.

``The reality is that this report is a last ditch sales pitch to try to lure naive investors to buy the worthless Tamar Valley pulp mill permits,'' Mr Booth said.

``It has nothing to do with looking after the interests of Tasmanian farmers, who were lured into investing in failed managed investment schemes under false pretences.''

Mr Ferguson waived a $1500-a-day fee offered by the government to do the report, but claimed expenses.

KEY REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS: 

  Rate and tax relief on plantation land until it is returned to productive use.

 Support for new forest productions processing developments from all levels of government, be it large or small processing projects.

 Investigate opportunities to improve export infrastructure in Southern Tasmania for logs and woodchips.

 Promote an expansion of the forest estate by integrating more trees onto agricultural land.

 More support in forestry research and development.

 Develop a bio-energy and bio-fuels policy.

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