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Gunns pulpmill holds hope for Australia paper, expert says

Thursday, 23 August 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

In the August edition of <a href="http://www.industryedge.com.au" target="_blank"><i>Pulp and Paper Edge</i></a> industry analyst Brian Stafford claims that if the pulp mill is knocked back it will destroy the possibility of a revival in printing and communication paper manufacture in Australia.

"The possible Gunns pulpmill in northern Tasmania has a very favourable long-term prognosis, even though it will not produce pulp as cheaply as the South Americans. If the proposed Gunns pulpmill was to be integrated with a paper machine ‘across the fence’ – not a 10-11 metre behemoth running at upwards of 2000 metres/minute, but a lower cost simpler, slower machine capable of making high quality paper efficiently, it could fit very effectively and efficiently into the Australasian market," he writes.

Stafford also mentions possible plans for the mill to make both hardwood and softwood pulp, the former from eucalypt and the latter from radiata pine pulpwood. Labelling this as a "return to the classical integration model" he noted advances in productivity: "Short distances to market also means faster delivery times, enabling domestic printers to respond more effectively to customer demands as well as lower inventory costs.

"In 2006, Australasia had a printing and communication market of over 1.6 Mt, the woodfree part of which totalled over a million tonnes, 450 kt of which was made locally, leaving nearly 600 kt imported from other countries, many on the other side of the world."

Stafford hopes that the proposal is accepted, as it could provide a boost to the industry. If not, the opposite is likely to occur. "If the Gunns pulpmill proposal goes down, the possibility of a revival in printing and communication paper manufacture in Australia goes with it … The pulpmill project and the opportunity it presents to install a large new long-term sustainable paper machine in Australia represent a enormous opportunity for the Australian manufacturing sector and our balance of payments and its failure would be extremely regrettable."

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