High level bid to save mill

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Karen Hunt

FORESTRY Min­is­ter Dave Kelly met Nan­nup Tim­ber Pro­cess­ing di­rec­tors on Fri­day in a bid to save the com­pany’s green mill af­ter the an­nounce­ment of a re­struc­ture that will cost 30 jobs.

Mr Kelly con­firmed the meet­ing had taken place af­ter the com­pany said Nan­nup’s green mill would close as soon as Septem­ber 6.

“While the de­tails of the dis­cus­sions are con­fi­den­tial I will be con­tin­u­ing these dis­cus­sions to ex­plore op­tions to keep the mill open,” Mr Kelly told the Times.

The di­rec­tors had not com­mented pub­licly at the time of writ­ing but a widely pub­lished let­ter to work­ers blames fac­tors be­yond the com­pany’s con­trol.

It cites poor sawlog qual­ity, lack of re­source se­cu­rity, “ex­ces­sive in­creases” in sawlog prices, ris­ing power costs and mar­ket de­mand.

Some work­ers would be of­fered jobs in the dry mill, which is un­der­stood to em­ploy an­other 30 peo­ple, as the com­pany as­sessed the op­er­a­tion’s longer-term vi­a­bil­ity.

While the let­ter cites “lack of re­source se­cu­rity”, Mr Kelly re­jected any link to the re­cently an­nounced stay on log­ging at Barrabup for­est pend­ing an old growth as­sess­ment.

For­est Prod­ucts Com­mis­sion rep­re­sen­ta­tives met with a di­rec­tor of NTP on Thurs­day, Mr Kelly said, and FPC is con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions to see what help it can pro­vide.

He had been in con­tact with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the mill work­ers while Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan had con­tacted the Nan­nup Shire Coun­cil.

He said he would work to find em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the area if the clo­sure pro­ceeded.

Shire pres­i­dent Tony Dean said Nan­nup was a re­silient com­mu­nity and tourism and agri­cul­ture could em­ploy some for­mer mill work­ers.

“It will be dif­fi­cult but it’s not the end of the world,” he said. Cr Dean said there was no di­rect link with the Barrabup cam­paign but he warned against “lock­ing up” forests.

“You can’t keep lock­ing up forests like you’ve done in the last 20 years and ex­pect the qual­ity of tim­ber and the quan­tity of tim­ber to be there, it just doesn’t hap­pen,” he said.

Auswest closed its Man­jimup and Pem­ber­ton fa­cil­i­ties and con­sol­i­dated op­er­a­tions in Green­bushes last year. Nan­nup Tim­ber Pro­cess­ing was con­tacted for com­ment.

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