New radial sawmill becomes reality
A sign of what can happen when industry has the security and confidence to invest.
IF EVER there was a time that the forest, fibre and wood products industry in Victoria needed a good news story, this was it. In a year that has been tumultuous to say the least, the opening of the new Radial Timbers sawmill at Yarram was the good news story the industry needed.
And what an achievement -- a $4.5 million state-ofthe-art commercial radial sawmill, the first of its kind in Australia, that has the ability of tripling the capacity of the current Radial Timbers mill.
Officially opened on 21 April by Darren Chester, Federal Member for Gippsland, the mill is a fantastic investment and accomplishment for the business.
It is a great display of the forward thinking and innovation that is happening in the forest, fibre and wood products industry in Victoria, and a sign of what can happen when industry has the security and confidence to invest.
As he officially opened the sawmill, Mr Chester spoke about the importance of the industry to the Gippsland region, stating that “Gippsland has a rich and proud history as a timber producing region. Investments like this [the mill] will lead to a great future as we make the best possible use of our timber resource.
“It’s a good example of what can be achieved when governments work in partnership with industry," he said.
Tim Johnston, CEO of VAFI, welcomed the opening of the mill, and is excited to see the where the business goes from here. “I congratulate Radial Timbers on this exciting occasion, and I look forward to seeing the new mill in operation, and the potential for further expansion in the future.
“Radial Timbers have built a mill that really is the first of its kind in Australia. They have used Australian-developed technology that allows them to triple their production capability and they are to be commended for constantly looking at ways to improve their operations all along the supply chain,” he said.
“This mill is a real boost for the local community, the wider Gippsland region and for the timber industry in general. With employment opportunities in regional Victoria hard to come by, it provided secure work for the duration of the build and will provide ongoing work as it operates.”
Radial Timber grows, mills and distributes a range of unique and standard products from durable Victorian hardwood timber. It is the only commercial radial sawing mill in the world, using Australian patented technologies to produce more timber from fewer trees. Radial sawmilling differs from conventional sawmilling, and cuts logs into wedges, essentially mimicking the way a log naturally splits as it dries.
Nathan Trushell, Acting CEO VicForests, said that the sawmill shows a promising future for both Radial Timber and the greater Victorian timber industry.
“This is a great example of how our industry is constantly adapting and evolving,” Mr Trushell said.
“As the main supplier for Radial Timber we are proud to support them during this exciting time and look forward to seeing the beautiful radial timber products enter the market,” he said.
The sawmill, which cost $4.5 million and took 12 months to build, provided local employment for the duration of the build and will also provide jobs for a number of new on-going workers at the mill.
“This expansion will secure our long-term viability within the industry and more than triple our production, bringing more jobs and activity to the region,” said Chris McEvoy, managing director of Radial Timber Australia.
“We are confident that between our 10 year contract with VicForests and over 2000 hectares of high value plantations that we have established in the region that we will be around for many years to come,” he said.
The Yarram radial mill, which processes 4000 cubic metres of logs per annum, mainly uses native forest timber sourced from VicForests, but this will progressively be replaced by hardwood plantations.
"We have just been reissued with a new VicForests allocation for 10 years, which will be ramped up with proposed mill extension from 4000 to 12,000 cubic metres," Mr McEvoy said.
"The idea before making any investment in a new greenfields mill is to guarantee resource. The agreement with VicForests is very important because
we are still 10 years away from our own plantation resource being mature enough to harvest.
"Our oldest plantations are about 12 years old. The earliest we can harvest them is between 22 and 25 years we are about half way. We needed something in the meantime until we can phase in the plantation resource."
Almost 100% of Radial’s products, which include shiplap cladding, decking, screenboards and a range of unique radial products, end up in high end Melbourne and interstate markets.
Radial Timber is now in the planning stages for a further expansion of a new dry mill on the site adding another $1.3 million investment into the region.
Carolyn Crossley - Mayor Wellington Shire Council, Chris McEvoy - Radial Timbers, Darren Chester MP - Federal Member for Gippsland, Jon Lambert - Heartwood Plantations