Rotorua targeted for NZ’s second CLT plant
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.