Pulp mill site cleared and awaits finance

An aerial view of the cleared Bell Bay site on which Gunns intends to build its pulp mill. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER
An aerial view of the cleared Bell Bay site on which Gunns intends to build its pulp mill. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

GUNNS' Bell Bay pulp mill site is cleared and ready for earthworks to start, says the company's corporate relations and sustainability manager Calton Frame.

"Construction-wise, we are as ready as we can be to start building," he said yesterday.

Mr Frame said that, operationally, the massive project was also nearly ready to go.

"The hydrodynamic modelling is one of the last major milestones to be completed," he said.

"That has required ocean testing, testing the waves and currents in Bass Strait to get 12 months worth of data and then have it modelled.

"We have up until March next year to complete it and that is on schedule."

But Mr Frame said that a start on the proposed mill was still contingent on finance.

It was also expected that construction would take at least two years to complete once that was locked in.

He said that news of pulp markets opening up again in Japan after the global financial crisis was good news but the company still had to get the mill to operational stage before it started worrying too much about markets.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," he said.

Mr Frame said that 90 hectares of the 600-hectare site, at Bell Bay, had been cleared for the pulp mill.

"There are a number of reserve areas and buffer areas but you can clearly see the footprint of the mill now."

The road to the proposed pulp mill will not feed directly off the East Tamar Highway, but from the company's existing road to its Long Reach woodchip mill.

"There will be no access from the highway - that's all part of the permit process to minimise access points on the highway for safety reasons," Mr Frame said.