Three North East forestry businesses believe that $100,000 grants from the state government will assist them in revitalising the industry, and improving the local economy.
It comes after the announcement of 13 successful applicants under the state government’s $1.25 million Wood and Processing Innovation Program.
Dorset businesses to benefit from the program include, Wood Pellets Tasmania, Dorset Renewable Industries and Stronach Industries.
Dorset Renewable Industries received $100,000 to develop on its project for a wood pellet plant at the former Gunns sawmill site.
The group’s chairman Dale Jessup said the funding would go towards contract expenses, test runs of raw materials, and identifying infrastructure improvements.
“This is a way of turning wood waste into a valuable product, the North East has several pine saw mills, and the project we’re looking at is to turn their saw dust into wood pellets,” he said.
“So we’re using locally available raw materials, obviously from plantation timbers since it’s pine.”
He said KPMG had concluded a business case which looked promising, and once preparation was finalised the next step would be to seek funding for the $2 million project.
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“We might have local ownership, if we can’t raise funding locally we will need business companies to go into partnership,” he said.
Wood Pellets Tasmania managing director Mervyn Jones said he would put the organisation’s $69,000 grant towards a domestic pellet operation.
“It will give us resources which we lost when Gunns Ltd had the downturn, we used to process 50 to 70 tonne a week, and it’s been a downhill spiral since then,” he said.
He said he hopes to return to full production, which in its peak was 3000 tonne a year.
Stronarch Industries Group general manager Michael Brill, who received $96,500 to go towards a timber processing and manufacturing centre, said he’d already bought wood fibre compression equipment.
“We plan to value add our waste into biofuel for the purpose of heating, and also for horse and pet litter, and garden products,” he said.
He said the grant would go towards infrastructure to support the machine.