Significant drop in sawmill numbers
continued from page 1. mills in New South Tasmania and Queensland.
In comparison, the softwood industry, excluding cypress pine mills, consists of relatively large mills with an input capacity above 100,000 cubic metres across Australia. Over the past decade, the domestic softwood sawmill industry has become significantly more capital intensive and larger in scale, which has limited the reductions in total log processing despite the decline in mill numbers.
The cypress pine sawnwood industry consists of relatively small mills in New South Wales and Queensland only. Post and pole mills are more evenly distributed across Australia, with average mill size similar to that of the cypress industry.
Wood-based panel mills are also distributed fairly evenly across the states, with more than half having a processing capacity of 100,000 cubic metres or greater. Detailed results for panel mills are not provided in this report because the survey response rate was too low to be statistically significant.
From the survey results, ABARES estimates that around 10 million cubic metres of sawlogs were processed in Australian sawmills during 2012–13, of which hardwood sawlogs comprised 1.9 million cubic metres, and softwood sawlogs around 8 million cubic metres, of which 187,000 cubic metres was cypress pine sawlogs. Hardwood sawnwood output in 2012–13 was estimated at around 740,000 cubic metres, and softwood sawnwood output at around 3.85 million cubic metres, of which around 78,000 cubic metres was cypress pine sawnwood. ABARES estimates that 24% of hardwood sawnwood production was dry appearance grade sawnwood, while green structural (23%) and green other (32%) sawnwood also accounted for significant shares. In contrast, more than half of total softwood sawnwood production was dry structural timber. A significant majority of wood processing facilities in Australia is wholly Australian owned and operated. Around 5% of wood processing facilities are partially or wholly owned by New Zealand, United States and other foreign investors.