No interest in mill from Gunns buyer

THE buyer of Gunns' 100,000-hectare plantation estate was not interested in the former company's Tamar Valley pulp mill permits as it did not believe the project would progress.

Australian-based forest investment company New Forests yesterday announced it had agreed to buy forestry and land assets from Gunns' receiver KordaMentha.

The sale includes 175,680 hectares of freehold land and road infrastructure, 96,850 hectares of premium hardwood and softwood plantations, a large Somerset nursery, laboratory facilities and access to the Burnie and Tamar woodchipping and port facilities.

The company did not disclose the price but several media outlets have reported a $330 million deal.

The sale will be completed by June 30.

New Forests will employ 32 former Gunns workers to manage the forestry portfolio, assisted by 150 harvesting and haulage contractors.

A company spokeswoman said it planned to woodchip the resource for export markets in Japan, China, and India.

"The plantation resource will be managed on a sustainable basis, and we will aim for certification of the forestry estate," she said.

"Existing timber markets for woodchip export will continue to be targeted in addition to seeking value-adding opportunities through the development of new product and market opportunities.

"New Forests business is to invest in sustainable plantation forestry, and we did not consider an investment in the pulp mill as it is outside our mandate."

Company chief executive David Brand told ABC Radio that the company did not bid on the permits as there was no evidence that the project would proceed.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss welcomed the sale as a sign of investor confidence in the state's forestry sector.

He said he was encouraged about ongoing negotiations between KordaMentha and two interested parties on a pulp mill development.

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