A “well progressed” plan for Australian Sustainable Hardwoods to relocate from Victoria to Tasmania could offer about 200 jobs in the Burnie area.
Manager for special projects with Hermal Group, a parent company, James Lantry said if the company was to relocate the bulk of the workforce would come from the community.
Mr Lantry said the company would need about 300,000 cubic metres of eucalyptus nitens (E.nitens) timber per year.
“We roughly employee one staff member per 1000 cubic metres,” Mr Lantry said.
However if a new production facility was built, automation technology could bring the required work force down.
Mr Lantry said Tasmanian E.nitens has been managed for the production of chip and is therefore generally younger, smaller and not as straight, which means using different milling techniques with different saws.=
He said E.nitens is not a timber that is used for kiln dried finished saw log products.
“Nobody in the world knows how to turn E.nitens into a sawn kiln dried product, but we can,” he said.
Mr Lantry said ASH had already sourced Tasmanian plantation E.Nitens in their trials to ensure they could get the strength needed in the proposed timber products.
Mr Lantry said any new mill would require new saws and associated infrastructure both in the green mill, turning logs into slab, and for the dry mill, milling slabs into timber.
“What we could utilise and relocate is the timber production manufacturing equipment, the high value processing equipment and with the closure of the Heyfield mill, this is the equipment we are looking to relocate,” he said.
Mr Lantry said several sites had been identified in and around Burnie for consideration.
“A suitable site would depend on proximity to timber supply, logistical connections and one that could potentially operate three shifts, and we would prefer this to be away from residential areas,” he said.