Ro­torua tar­geted for NZ’s sec­ond CLT plant

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

RED STAG GROUP, WHICH RUNS THE LARGEST SAWMILL IN the South­ern Hemi­sphere, plans to in­vest more than $20 mil­lion to de­velop a large-scale cross-lam­i­nated tim­ber (CLT) plant at its wood pro­cess­ing site in Ro­torua.

It will be­come New Zealand’s sec­ond CLT plant, af­ter the pi­o­neer­ing XLam process was es­tab­lished in Nel­son six years ago.

How­ever, the plant be­ing planned by Red Stag will be much larger, pro­duc­ing more than 50,000 cu­bic me­tres of cross­lam­i­nated tim­ber within two years of its start up in mid-2019 – the equiv­a­lent of around 2,000 hous­ing units. That’s if it is built at all.

Red Stag Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Marty Verry, says the com­pany’s plans are con­di­tional on draft build­ing stan­dards re­quir­ing full chem­i­cal pen­e­tra­tion of cross-lam­i­nated tim­ber be­ing con­firmed by the Stan­dards New Zealand unit of the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment to guard against rot from ex­po­sure to mois­ture.

Tim­ber for the new CLT plant will be sup­plied by Red Stag’s own Waipa sawmill, which re­cently un­der­went a $100 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment to cre­ate New Zealand’s first ‘su­per mill’, ca­pa­ble of pro­cess­ing 1 mil­lion tonnes of logs a year. The CLT plant will be built next to the mill on the 95ha site owned by Red Stag.

The ex­pan­sion into cross-lam­i­nated tim­ber is seen as com­ple­men­tary to the gov­ern­ment’s Ki­wiBuild pro­gramme, which aims to de­liver 100,000 af­ford­able houses over the next 10 years. CLT can help drive down con­struc­tion time by as much as 30% and, con­se­quently, the cost of build­ing.

En­gi­neered wood prod­ucts, such as CLT, are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar for multi-storey build­ings around the world and are also gain­ing trac­tion in New Zealand af­ter re­cent earth­quakes showed wooden build­ings out­per­formed con­crete and steel struc­tures. Prop­erty de­vel­oper Bob Jones is erect­ing the coun­try’s tallest wooden of­fice build­ing, at 12 storeys, in cen­tral Welling­ton us­ing the prod­uct, while Su­mit­omo plans to build an 80-storey part-wood build­ing in Tokyo.

“Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber is a prod­uct on a rapid growth curve glob­ally,” says Mr Verry. “It is one of the ‘mas­sive tim­ber’ group of prod­ucts, along with oth­ers such as glu­lam, that is open­ing up the mid- and high-rise build­ing mar­ket to wood.”

He says there is strong de­mand in New Zealand for the wood and praised Nel­son’s XLam for de­vel­op­ing the cross-lam­i­nated tim­ber mar­ket on its own to date.

“We see the need now for a scale North Is­land pro­ducer so that be­tween us we take the prod­uct main­stream,” adds Mr Verry. “Our vi­sion is that wood will be the norm in mid-rise build­ings by 2030, and I can see the Ki­wiBuild tar­get be­ing achiev­able in the early 2020s as a re­sult.”

The new cross-lam­i­nated tim­ber plant will come un­der the com­pany’s Red Stag Wood So­lu­tions divi­sion run by Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ja­son Cordes, and is ex­pected to gen­er­ate 40 re­gional jobs, mostly in Ro­torua.

A mod­u­lar ap­proach to the fac­tory means more ca­pac­ity can be bought on as re­quired, he says.

Mr Cordes says CLT has the po­ten­tial to save thou­sands of dol­lars on the cost of hous­ing and mid-rise build­ings by re­duc­ing ma­te­rial cost, on-site labour costs and con­struc­tion time, and per­forms well in earth­quakes, where its light weight and abil­ity to flex means it per­forms bet­ter than heavy rigid build­ings from con­crete and steel, with a very pre­dictable and high fire rat­ing.

Red Stag is plan­ning to build a $20 mil­lion CLT plant at its Ro­torua wood pro­cess­ing site.

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