22 January 2010

Gunns Vows To Use 100% Plantation Timber in Bell Bay Pulp Mill

We all use paper and wood products and have to get it from somewhere - but we need to pressure the suppliers to ensure how we meet those needs has minimal impact on people and the environment, including the siting of these facilities and the production processes.

Then there is the matter of the actions/track record of the Gunns company...so this news about timber source is a start, but only a start.

Reposted in full from Ethical Investor, 20 January 2010

'Gunns’ $2.5 billion BellBay pulp mill will begin operation with 100 per cent plantation timber, following the news the timber company had secured access to the Great Southern timber resource.

Gay said discussions with project equity partners and the banking syndicate were continuing “positively”.

Gunns chairman John Gay said the appointment of Gunns as responsible entity for nine former Great Southern timber managed investment schemes gave the company the security of supply it needed.

“The BellBay mill has always been planned and designed as a plantation based mill,” Gay said.

“However, with Gunns’ existing resources, it was not possible for Gunns to guarantee supply to the mill of 100 per cent plantation timber until five years after commencement of mill operations.

“Securing the Great Southern resource is an exciting new development for Gunns that allows us to accelerate our plantation strategy to supply the Bell Bay mill with 100 per cent plantation from mill start-up.”

That meets a condition set by a possible Swedish investor, Sodra.

The Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, challenged environmentalists and the Greens to accept Gunns' proposed pulp mill, now that it will not use old-growth timber.

"My challenge to [Greens leader] Nick McKim, and his friends in the Wilderness Society, is to stop spreading misinformation about the use of native forest because clearly this is not true," he said.

McKim welcomed the move but says it does not change the Greens' opposition to the mill. He says it should be moved and use different technology.

A chief opponent of the mill,, TAP into a Better Tasmania, said its opposition chiefly related to the siting of the pulp mill in the TamarValley.

"The fact that Gunns now intends to use only plantation timber doesn't alter the fact that the TamarValley is completely the wrong place to build their proposed pulp mill," spokeswoman Anne Layton-Bennett said.

Gunns says it still needs its wood supply deal with Forestry Tasmania, even though its proposed pulp mill not use native forest timber. Forestry Tasmania extended the wood supply agreement a year ago, giving Gunns another two years to start building the mill.

Paul Oosting from the Wilderness Society says if that the mill can be totally plantation fed from the start, the deal with Forestry Tasmania is now redundant.

"The wood-supply deal should now be immediately axed," he said.'

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