Friday Offcuts 7 April 2017
In our market coverage this week, we have a report out from Wood Resource Quarterly outlining the continued rise over the past 15 years of the global trade in wood chips. A steady increase of about four percent annually (volumes year-over-year were up 11 of the past 14 years) have been recorded. It should be of no surprise that China has overtaken Japan as the largest chip importer and that Australia continues to be a major player in hardwood chip exports. In global lumber trading, European sawmills on the back of reduced consumption at home have been finding new markets with China, Japan and other countries in East Asia being targeted. In China, Europe's market share increased to a record level in 2016.
In the technology space this week, a new building code in China is being introduced from 1 October allowing wood structures up to 5-storeys tall (or 18 stories subject to a number of conditions), we have some UK scientists that have developed a renewable plastic made with a chemical derived from pine needles and we cover a new technology developed from pulp manufacturing that can be used as a replacement for toxic phenol compounds used in wood adhesives.
Finally, another positive note to finish the week on. As evidenced by the current level of activity out in the forest and in mills (harvesting is at record levels and domestic consumption of sawn timber likewise is up), MPI forecasts for New Zealand’s forestry sector look pretty bright right now. Forestry export revenues are forecast to rise 5.8 per cent for the year ending June 2017, and a further 8.8 per cent in the year to June 2018.
And we've got a quirky story out of NSW to finish the week on. Timber (Sugar Pine) planted for some of the earlier softwood trials in the Tumut region more than a century ago has recently found an unusual home, hand crafted acoustic pianos. You check out the story below. Enjoy this week’s read.
Note: With the long Easter break next weekend, Offcuts will be sent out next Thursday. For contributors and advertisers to the newsletter, please send details through to us for next week's issue by mid-day on Wednesday.
This week we have for you:
First anniversary of new safety law in NZNew health and safety legislation in New Zealand – which came into force one year ago on Monday – has succeeded in focusing attention on the need to keep people safe and healthy at work, the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) says. But injury rates are still too high so there is still much work to do, says FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing.
The Health and Safety at Work Act came into force on April 4, 2016. “Most requirements in the new Act are things that good forestry companies are already trying to do,” Fiona says. “That includes managing risks effectively, involving workers in decisions on health and safety, and making sure forest owners, managers and contractors all work together to ensure the job’s done safely. The new law has made it clear that everyone at work has a responsibility and role to play in health and safety - from workers to company directors.”
The law reinforced what good companies are already doing and set standards that others must meet, Fiona says. That’s important because there is still much work to be done to make forestry a safe, professional industry, she says.
FISC’s most recent health and safety dashboard shows that after declining in 2015, injuries began creeping up again in 2016. More than 173 forestry workers were severely injured in 2016, and the rate of serious injuries per 10,000 workers rose nearly 11% over the year before.
Fiona says there’s still a “compliance mentality” within parts of the forestry industry, where health and safety is focused around ensuring you have the paperwork needed to protect yourself from prosecution if someone gets hurt. “That has to change to a focus of caring for people and doing the job professionally.”
New record high for globally traded wood chipsGlobal trade of wood chips has seen spectacular development the past 15 years with a steady increase of about four percent annually (volumes year-over-year were up 11 of the past 14 years), according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).
In 2016, an estimated 35.6 million tons were shipped, predominantly to pulp mills in China and Japan, which can be compared to only 21 million tons 15 years ago. While trade of hardwood chips reached a record high in 2016, shipments of softwood chips have levelled out the past few years with 2016 volumes being slightly lower than the ten-year average.
Japan and China are by far the two dominant consumers of globally traded wood chips. Their dominance is particularly accentuated for hardwood chips, where they imported 84 percent of the world’s total imports in 2016, up from 75 percent in 2007. China has surpassed Japan as the largest importer of chips in the world, and with expansion of pulp capacity on the horizon in China, it is likely that the country will be the number one destination for wood chips for many years to come.
The major sources of hardwood chips for the two dominant importers include (in ranking order in the 4Q/16); Vietnam, Australia, Chile and South Africa. The biggest change on the supply side the past three years has been the sharp increases in hardwood chip shipments from Australia, South Africa, Brazil and Chile, while exports have fallen from Indonesia, Uruguay and Thailand.
About 30% of global chip trade occurs outside of the Pacific Rim with Finland, Sweden and Turkey being the major destinations. The Finnish forest industry has long been reliant on both logs and wood chips from neighbouring Russia and the Baltic States. In 2016, Finland imported almost 1.7 million tons of chips to its country’s pulp industry, of which a majority was softwood chips from Russia. Current import volumes are down about 25% from five years ago, partly because of increased availability of domestic chips and higher usage of pulplogs.
Source: Wood Resources International LLC, www.woodprices.com
Positive outlook for NZ forestry sectorNew Zealand’s Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston has welcomed new forecasts showing forestry export revenue set to rise further over the next two financial years.
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ first quarterly update of its Situation Outlook for Primary Industries shows forestry export revenue is forecast to rise 5.8 per cent to NZ$5.4 billion for the year ending June 2017, and a further 8.8 per cent to NZ$5.9 billion in the year to June 2018.
“Rising log exports are behind this positive forecast, with a strong demand from China due to its expanding housing market. This, combined with low shipping costs, has driven harvesting to record levels,” Ms Upston says.
“Increased building activity in Auckland and Christchurch are also driving domestic consumption of sawn timber, up 7 per cent in the year to September 2016, which is great news for the forestry sector.”
The annual harvest reached a new record in 2016, pushed up by higher log prices, with the supply of harvestable wood set to increase over the next five years.
“Forestry is our third highest export-earner and an important industry for our regions. This Government is encouraging more planting through the Afforestation Grants Scheme which has $19.5 million to establish 15,000ha of new forests between 2015 and 2020.
$30M investment by Oji Fibre SolutionsOji Fibre Solutions (OjiFS) has unveiled upgraded and expanded facilities at its Penrose (Auckland) paper bag manufacturing plant. The NZ$30 million capital investment lifts production capacity and provides a world- class food safety environment that aims to future proof the business and continue to set the global standard in dairy bag production.
The new facilities were officially opened on Friday by New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development, Hon Simon Bridges. OjiFS chief executive Jon Ryder said the event marks one of the first milestones in an exciting new chapter in the company’s history.
“The decision to invest $30 million into this site was made in February 2015, within months of the purchase of our business (formerly CHH Pulp, Paper and Packaging) by Oji Holdings and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) in November 2014. It is a strong sign of Oji’s commitment to New Zealand and our intent to grow the Oji Fibre Solutions business in NZ and Australia.”
Dr Ryder said the business has traditionally been a supplier of commodity products – the Penrose investment reflects its transition to become more of a solutions company for its customers.
The investment project has seen the extension of the plant’s existing hygiene hall and upgrade of a conversion line that produces multi-walled bags for dairy and food powder packaging. It entailed upgrading of all aspects of critical hygiene, installation of state of the art bag-making equipment and construction of an additional 3,000m2 of onsite warehousing and associated facilities.
Oji Fibre Solutions is a leading supplier of multi-ply paper bags in New Zealand. In addition to supplying the dairy and food bag market, its Penrose business also produces tens of millions of paper bags for a diverse range of market segments including cement, vegetables and food products. Its current market is primarily domestic however the business has rapidly growing export volumes to Australia, the Pacific Islands and South America. Key customers include major dairy processing companies in New Zealand, Australia and South America along with other large scale food product manufacturers.
Carbon market updateNZUs hit $17.50 earlier in the week. There is good demand in the market at $17.50 and below. Major sellers are still absent, enjoying high log prices and waiting for higher carbon prices before selling – their level is $20. There are smaller sellers entering the market every day and their volumes continue to get accumulated.
“Given the current momentum – we do expect the market to push higher. We were surprised it jumped 25 cents on Monday. At the end of the day – it’s a market based tax, buyers have to buy and sellers don’t have to sell” says Nigel Brunel OMF Director - Financial Markets.
We are also seeing forward prices out to April 2022 being posted on CommTrade ( www.commtrade.co.nz) - this shows the market is maturing and gives both emitters and forest owners a forward look out 5 years beyond just spot prices.
President Trump is expected to announce whether or not the US will stay in the Paris Agreement. He did threaten/promise to withdraw prior to the election but there are hints he has moderated that stance. Time will tell – it would take four years notice to withdraw unless he pulled the US out of the UNFCCC.
“Our view is he won’t withdraw as it’s very isolationist but they only account for 15% of global emissions so it’s a case of so what. The US approach to reducing emissions is mainly state-based – e.g. California won’t abandon its ETS “says Mr Brunel.
Century-old timber into acoustic pianosTimber planted during planting trials a century ago is now being trialled in the production of acoustic pianos, after a local piano maker ordered a load of sugar pine grown in Tumut State Forest to be tested in the construction of grand pianos.
Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Tumut-based Harvesting Controller Jason Laverty said sugar pine was one of several softwood species planted in the local area during timber trials prior to the second world war.
“Early last century, pine plantations were only just starting out in this region so a lot of different species were planted to see which species grew best in the local conditions and produced the strong, straight timber that we need,” Mr Laverty said.
“Radiata pine plantations did really well in these trials, which is why we plant millions of radiata pine seedlings throughout the State every year, but sugar pine and other species didn’t do as well, taking longer to reach maturity or not producing the sort of timber we were seeking.
“Almost a century later, we still have a few stands of various pine species that have reached maturity but aren’t quite right for traditional local markets, so we have been sending trial loads to some of our customers to test new markets.”
Contemporary piano maker Wayne Stuart, founder of Stuart & Sons Hand Crafted Grand Pianos, ordered a load of the sugar pine timber from the Bago Hardwood Mill. Mr Stuart said that the timber will dry and season over the next three to four years before being hand crafted into pianos.
“I usually purchase timber from the United States due to the species requirements, structure, quality and economic value. However, the old growth forests of California are diminishing and alternative plantation species are now being used. Sugar Pine is the perfect alternative as it is famous for pattern making, is a light yet strong timber and has high dimensional stability and excellent glue adhesion,” Mr Stuart said.
“The climate in Tumut is ideal for piano timber processing as the below zero temperatures squeeze out any moisture in the wood aiding in the acoustic capacity of the instrument. There is a lot to be learnt from this trial and I cannot wait to start working with the hundred-year-old timber.”
Image: Historic photo of sugarpine plantations. This photo is from 1954 and shows sugarpine plantations around the Tumut area that had been planted several decades earlier.
Source: Forestry Corporation of NSW
European sawmills gain market share in East AsiaA reduced consumption of lumber in Europe has forced European sawmills to find new markets. According to a recent analysis from Woodstat, investment has resulted in increased market share in East Asia while Canada is losing market share in the same region.
Over the past year, European sawmills have continued to take market share in China, Japan and other countries in East Asia. It has become a natural focus as continued low activity in European construction has reduced the lumber consumption there.
In China, Europe's (excl. Russia) market share increased to a record level in 2016, reaching 9% compared to 8% in 2015. Russia's market share increased from 49% to 55%. The large increase for Russia corresponds to a volume increase of 3.1 million m³ (+37%). Finland and Sweden also had significant increases in volume percentage (+57% resp. + 35%).
The development in Japan is similar. Europe (excl. Russia) increased its market share from 41% to 44% in 2016 and Russia from 13% to 14%. Canada's share declined from 34% to 32% and the Canadian market share is now at a very low level.
In other countries in East Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand) imports of softwood lumber are increasing quickly and their total import in 2016 amounted to 3.3 million m³ from leading exporters in Europe, incl. Russia and North America. Europe's market share has increased dramatically in recent years, while the corresponding decline occurred for Canada.
Technology that could reduce CO2 footprint of EWPVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed technology known as "CatLignin" to produce reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams to be used as a replacement for toxic phenol compounds in wood adhesives that are widely used in wood products and furniture.
Traditionally phenol and formaldehyde containing adhesives are used in wood products such as plywood, laminated veneer lumber and laminates. There is a drive from society and wood product manufacturers to find bio-based and safe alternatives to these oil-based, toxic and expensive adhesive components.
VTT has developed CatLignin technology for producing reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams currently used for energy production. Due to its superior reactivity, CatLignin is an ideal replacement for phenol in phenol formaldehyde resins and could become a new, high-value product for pulp mills. In addition, the CO2 footprint of lignin is only approximately 20% of the footprint of phenol. Resins have a significant impact on CO2 footprint of engineered wood products. For example, in plywood, around half of CO2 footprint is caused by resin usage. Replacing phenol with lignin also reduces formaldehyde usage.
"The suitability of lignin for a variety of applications has been investigated for decades, but only now we have found a way to use it as a phenol substitute in significant quantities in resins. VTT's CatLignin technology represents a technological leap, offering new business opportunities to many industrial players," says Senior Scientist Hanne Wikberg.
This new material brings new business opportunities for the entire value chain, from lignin producers to adhesive and wood product manufacturers and end-users. In practice, this means pulp mills, adhesive, wood product and laminate manufacturers and their customers, such as kitchen cabinet and furniture brands.
The Catlignin technology development is underway in a project funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and VTT. This technology has already attracted a great deal of interest throughout the whole value chain and VTT is currently seeking partners for upscaling and commercialisation of the technology.
Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Tropical Forestry Services rebrandsAustralian sandalwood producer Tropical Forestry Services has rebranded, as the company pivots its focus from growing trees to marketing its product to the perfume, pharmaceutical and skincare trade. Now known as Quintis, the Perth-headquartered company said the move would help it market an authentic product, in a market increasingly targeted by organised crime and fraud.
Controlling around 80 per cent of the world's dwindling Indian sandalwood supplies, Quintis managing director Frank Wilson said the rebranding was also about assuring its major customers that the products were sustainable and ethical.
"We're working in markets, like China and India, where there are a lot of knock offs, but the prize is big so it's worth going for," he said. The company exported its first shipment of sandalwood to China in October last year, marking the start of a five-year agreement to supply 150 tonnes of processed heartwood to China each year, valued at AU$29 million per annum.
Mr Wilson said the company was constantly searching for more land to expand, and as more trees reached maturity exports were tipped to grow further. While China was the company's largest market, it was eyeing India for future expansion plans.
Quintis has a range of advanced medical trials in the USA using sandalwood to treat skin conditions such as warts, eczema and psoriasis. It owns the company running the trials, and its board is considering listing on the NASDAQ.
Source: ABC News
Unmanned helicopters on a data collection missionIn many forests, the collection of information pertaining to the wood remains neglected, due to a shortage of specially trained personnel, specific expertise, funding, or appropriate technology. A project funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) aims to put small, unmanned helicopters to work, measuring the parameters for the forest inventory.
The project's lead scientist, Stephan Weiss (Department of Smart System-Technologies), proposes the deployment of small, unmanned helicopters. "By applying automatic image processing and path-planning, as well as 3D reconstruction, the UAVs can autonomously fly under the tree canopy and derive the forest parameters from the 3D data," says Weiss. . The research team is working to develop an airworthy prototype.
See more in the March issue of R&D Works.
We won’t source Tasmanian timber outside existing coupesAustralia's largest household hardware chain has said that they won’t be selling timber sourced from contentious Tasmanian forests that the Government wants to re-open to logging earlier than planned. The suppliers of timber to Bunnings have informed the retail giant that they would only source wood from existing forest coupes reports ABC News.
The Tasmanian Government wants to allow logging in 356,000 hectares of land otherwise protected under a moratorium until 2020, with legislation that passed the Lower House in March set to be debated in the Upper House next week. The State Opposition tabled a letter in Parliament from Bunnings managing director Michael Schneider outlining the company's position on the Government's plan to allow logging in 356,000 hectares of informal forest reserves.
"We have been consistent in stating publicly that we welcome an outcome that supports the timber industry, local communities and the environment," Mr Schneider states in the letter. "Our Tasmanian suppliers have advised us that they will not be sourcing our timber from outside their existing coupes."
Mr Schneider said while Bunnings "has no desire to be drawn into the current debate", the company had been asked to "confirm our position in relation to the sourcing of timber products" by writing to the leaders of both major parties in Tasmania. Read more.
Source: ABC News
Biochar research with woody biomass given boostOn 24 January, this year the Colorado General assembly passed a bill to support the United States Forest Service, the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, and other research into the removal of fuel loads on the forest floor for the creation of biochar.
The Bill will also support the use of biochar as a soil amendment for reforestation, the continued creation of biochar from woody biomass found in forests and the use of biochar as a soil amendment within forests and farms, towns, and cities to assist with reforestation treatments.
This was based on several pursuing points of benefits for the creation and use of Biochar which can be viewed here. This bill invokes confidence amongst ANZ foresters who seek to eliminate fuel on the forest floor and create bio-products from offcuts and debris that normally have no commercial value using pyrolysis technology.
The Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference (ANZBC17) planned for 10-12 August in Muwillumbah, NSW will showcase the latest pyrolysis technologies from around the World to match the corresponding biomass source. For more information on the event visit anzbc.org.au.
China Introduces Tall Wood Building CodeOn February 21st, 2017 China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) issued “Technical standard for multi-storey and high-rise timber buildings (GB/T51226 – 2017)”. In line with a global push towards taller wood structures, the code aims to broaden the scope of application of timber structures beyond the current 3-storey limit.
The new code allows wood structures up to 5-storeys. Moreover, on a case-to-case basis, structures up to 56 meters or 18 stories may be approved for construction in the lowest seismically rated zone in China (6 degree seismic) subject to local authority approval and expert endorsement. The code officially takes effect on October 1st, 2017.
Green plastic made from green needlesWhen pine trees are harvested, it's obviously the wood that people are after – the needles are simply discarded. Before too long, however, that may change. Scientists from the UK's University of Bath have recently developed a renewable plastic, made with a chemical derived from pine needles.
The chemical in question is called pinene. It's a member of the terpene family, and it's what gives pine trees their distinctive smell. The polymer that has been made from the pinene could reportedly take the place of an existing petroleum-based rubbery polymer known as caprolactone.
Currently, caprolactone is added to biodegradable polyesters such as PLA (polylactic acid), to make them more flexible. While PLA is plant-based, however, caprolactone is made from crude oil. This means that the resulting composite isn't entirely renewable. When the pinene polymer is used instead, though, it is.
So far only a few grams of the plastic have been produced, although plans are in place to scale up the production process. Ultimately, it is hoped that the material could be used for applications such as food packaging, plastic bags and medical implants.
"We're not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful," says PhD student Helena Quilter. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Polymer Chemistry.
Source: University of Bath
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers secures financeKangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd is pleased to announce that it has entered into a funding agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Subject to certain conditions precedent, including all necessary development approvals, the Bank will lend up to AU$57.1m in total. This will support 100% of the anticipated construction cost of AU$30m for the Company’s proposed Smith Bay Wharf plus an allowance for equipment finance and working capital.
The agreement contains provisions for up to AU$25m of facilities should the Company elect to borrow against its expanded portfolio of land and timber assets in the future. Paul McKenzie, the Chairman of KPT, who led the Company’s negotiations with CBA, commented, “CBA’s Specialized Agribusiness Solutions team invested considerable time and expertise into understanding our business. We are pleased to have Australia’s biggest bank backing this important infrastructure project for South Australia, Kangaroo Island and our Company.”
Source: Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd
Scholarship Advances innovation on the Fraser CoastWith the support of the Queensland Government's Advanced Queensland PhD Scholarships initiative and in collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Hyne Timber has appointed a Graduate Engineer to join their team near Maryborough.
Graduate Engineer, Rebecca Cherry, commenced employment on the 20th March at Hyne Timber's Tuan Mill where she will also be completing her PhD following a presentation of a scholarship by the Queensland Deputy Premier, the Hon Jackie Trad at Queensland Science Reception.
This presents an opportunity for Ms Cherry to investigate innovative sustainable building technologies within a commercial environment. According to Hyne Timber's Product Development Manager, Geoff Stringer, Hyne Timber recognises and values innovative partnerships.
"Establishing partnerships and engaging PhD students to further develop sustainable building materials using locally grown and manufactured plantation softwood has the real potential to further support regional economic development for the Fraser Coast." Mr Stringer said.
"For example, Ms Cherry previously worked with Hyne Timber at our Glue Laminated Timber plant in North Maryborough to support our locally manufactured timber bridge solution, which was made from locally grown plantation pine.
"This bridge, an innovation itself, was successfully and quickly installed in the Tuan Forest and presents a sustainable, prefabricated option as part of the Federal Government’s bridge replacement program, especially for smaller, regionally located bridge projects where access for heavy lifting equipment is restricted." Mr Stringer concluded.
Hyne Timber already sponsors an educational assistance program with eight employees currently undertaking graduate studies, five of whom are in Maryborough. Courses range from accounting, law, business analytics, asset maintenance and statistics.
The companies dedicated Organisational Development Manager, Mark Lourigan just recently spoke as part of an Employer Panel at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s campus in Hervey Bay, providing tips and answering under graduate's questions with regards to making themselves more employable.
The existing educational assistance program is currently being rolled up into Hyne Timber’s new, comprehensive Capability Development Plan. This plan is designed to offer development opportunities for existing employees while also formalising school based placements, internships and reintroducing cadetships.
The cadet program has provided the company with technical and leadership capability over many years, up until the mid-2000s. Many of those cadets are still in the company in technical and/or leadership positions including the recently appointed General Manager for Business Development and Strategy, Shane Robertson, based in Maryborough.
The program is open to new or existing employees to undertake an intensive program of learning for future technical and leadership capability aligned to a national qualification, combined with on-the-job program components throughout the company.
Photo Hyne Timber Maryborough employees currently undertaking sponsored graduate study and the company's Organisational Development Manager, Mark Lourigan. Top Left - Mark Lourigan, Marcus Fenske and Grant Muller, Front Left - Louisa Moran and Megan Behrendorff
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... dog for sale
A man is driving up the West Coast when he sees a sign in front of a house: 'Talking Dog For Sale '. He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard. The bloke goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.
And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.
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