Over-the-fence deal does a power of good for ma­jor busi­nesses

Australian Forests and Timber - - Front Page -

ASIMPLE con­veyor belt joins Hyne Tim­ber's Tuan Mill and neigh­bour­ing Al­tus Re­new­ables. Such is the way for ef­fi­cient trans­for­ma­tion of one plant's sus­tain­able byprod­uct into an­other plant’s core busi­ness -- bio­fuel.

It is cer­tainly not un­usual for large scale plan­ta­tion soft­wood pro­cess­ing plants to ex­ist as part of a sup­ply chain hub and while each one of these hubs are unique, the man­u­fac­ture of tim­ber bio­fuel for clean, re­new­able energy pro­duc­tion is com­mon place.

In this case, the tim­ber by-prod­uct is com­pressed through a man­u­fac­tur­ing process of its own into small pel­lets which are highly sought af­ter in Ja­pan and some Euro­pean coun­tries to fuel clean energy pro­duc­tion in what were once en­tirely coal fu­elled power sta­tions.

David Knight, Plant Man­ager of the Al­tus Re­new­ables' 100,000 MT ca­pac­ity pel­let fa­cil­ity next to Hyne Tim­ber near Mary­bor­ough, said their cus­tomers want durable pel­lets with high calorific value.

"We es­sen­tially buy all the saw­dust and shav­ings we can get from over the fence at Hyne Tim­ber.

"Our plant then den­si­fies the wood by-prod­uct in­clud­ing dry­ing the tim­ber to max­imise fuel qual­ity while mak­ing trans­port sig­nif­i­cantly more cost ef­fi­cient.

"Pel­lets are trans­ported to the Bund­aberg Port by trucks where they are stored in a ded­i­cated build­ing prior to be­ing shipped to cus­tomers in Europe and Ja­pan who will co-fire the pel­lets in their coal-fired power sta­tions.

"Well, at least that’s about 95% of our plants' pel­lets. The other 5% ser­vice do­mes­tic cus­tomers rang­ing from eques­trian bed­ding, kitty lit­ter to home heat­ing so­lu­tions.

"The lat­ter con­tin­ues to gain pop­u­lar­ity in colder cli­mates for the high heat, high efficiency with lit­tle ash and fumes, if any. Some heater sys­tems re-burn their own fumes for added efficiency and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits," Mr Knight said.

With prod­ucts be­ing shipped off over­seas or bagged up for other do­mes­tic mar­ket needs, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that many lo­cals don't know these two oper­a­tions ex­ist in the for­est, col­lec­tively em­ploy­ing around 200 peo­ple di­rectly, and hun­dreds more in­di­rectly.

David joked that he is of­ten asked what he does for a liv­ing and when he replies, "we make pel­lets", peo­ple as­sume they make tim­ber pal­lets for trans­porta­tion.

"Now, I tell peo­ple we make bio­fuel from tim­ber. I might still have to ex­plain that, but it makes for a more in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion," Mr Knight con­cluded.

Hyne Tim­ber was es­tab­lished in Mary­bor­ough in 1882 with the Tuan Mill, now one of the largest soft­wood pro­cess­ing plants in the South­ern Hemi­sphere, es­tab­lished in 1985.

The com­pany em­ploys around 570 peo­ple, 300 of whom are in the Fraser Coast Re­gion alone, a re­gion faced with higher than av­er­age un­em­ploy­ment rates.

Al­tus Re­new­ables, head­quar­tered in Lo­gan­holme, Queens­land, is also in the process of work­ing on a new 500,000 MT pel­let plant project in the Green Tri­an­gle in South Aus­tralia. The plant near Mary­bor­ough is an ex­am­ple of ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, oper­at­ing a clean, lean process sup­ported by ro­bot­ics and tech­nol­ogy.

Both Hyne Tim­ber and Al­tus Re­new­ables also fuel their own heat plants us­ing tim­ber biomass from saw­dust or tim­ber shav­ings.

Al­tus Re­new­ables at Tuan.

The con­veyor line from Hyne Tim­ber to Al­tus.

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