AUSTRALIA-based forest grower and wood processor OneFortyOne has committed to invest $11 million in its Kaituna sawmill at Blenheim at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

General manager Tracy Goss says the $11 million investment consists of three major projects to increase the sawmill’s drying and treating capacity.

“By purchasing new equipment, we will be able to extract greater value from each log, meaning more local timber can be produced for New Zealand’s housing market,” he said.

“With an improvement in our processing capability onsite, it also means 20 fewer trucks on the road every month, reducing our emissions by 9% annually.

“In the past 10 years the sawmill has achieved a 46% reduction in the site’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

A suite of environmental improvements has been made, from small to significant at the mill. A state-of-the-art biomass energy centre and continuous drying kiln installed in 2016 have reduced the sawmill’s carbon footprint by 934 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents a year.

“Reducing our footprint by another 265 tonnes annually is significant and a great example of where actively deciding to monitor and invest in reducing our carbon footprint leads to better business and community outcomes,” Mr Goss said.

“It’s an exciting project and it represents the first major capex investment from OneFortyOne since acquisition of Nelson Forests.”

Speaking at the announcement, regional MP Stuart Smith congratulated OneFortyOne and the Kaituna sawmill for making a significant investment in the region and in New Zealand’s timber industry which will increase supply and create local jobs.

“The majority of the timber products will be consumed by the local building and construction industry,” Mr Smith said.

The Kaituna sawmill has been in operation since 1985. OneFortyOne purchased Nelson Forests (including the Kaituna sawmill) in September 2018.

The sawmill has increased its capacity by 40% over the past two years. Some 70% of production is sold domestically.

OneFortyOne, as a vertically-integrated trans-Tasman business, manages 80,000 ha of certified sustainable plantation forests in New Zealand and 82,000 ha in the Green Triangle where the company’s Jubilee sawmill is located at Mount Gambier.  

The combined log sales of both Australia and New Zealand are is in excess of 2 million cub m a year, with most logs sold domestically to support jobs and local processing.