Friday Offcuts – 21 April 2017

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First the good news this week. A Chinese-based Wood Industry Group has just announced plans to establish a particle board operation in Kawerau in the central North Island, New Zealand. If consents are approved, the new plant is expected to be up and running by 2020. In Yarram, Victoria today, the sawmilling operation, Radial Timber Australia is being opened. The company has spent some AU$4.5 million on this unique radial sawing technology. The new operation has the ability of tripling the capacity of the old mill and the company’s already planning for a new AU$1.3 million dry mill on the Yarram site. Details of both of these exciting wood processing developments are outlined below.

In a recent issue of Friday Offcuts we touched on the herculean task that Donald Trump and his administration have in front of them to bring back jobs into the US. The steady decline hasn’t been so much that the manufacturing jobs have gone offshore but rather, the mechanisation of manufacturing has been the root cause for the drop-off in employment. It’s been the move to artificial intelligence, robotics, and other clever technologies that’s forever changing the shape of manufacturing in the U.S. Predictions were made that in the next 25 years, 47% of our current jobs are likely to be eliminated by technology and globalization. Note, even with recent moves by Trump to reenergise coal jobs lost in the US, one of the principal reasons for diminishing jobs in mining is that the business has become increasingly automated, meaning fewer jobs per tonne of coal produced.

We’ve got a follow up to that earlier story this week. New research out shows the dramatic degree to which industrial robots are now replacing human workers and forcing down wages. Experts are predicting that the stock of robots in the US is going to quadruple by 2025. Each additional robot in the US economy reduces employment by 5.6 workers, and every robot added to the workforce per 1000 human workers causes wages to drop by as much as 0.25 to 0.5 per cent. Predictably, the major categories experiencing substantial declines are what? Routine manual occupations, blue-collar workers, operators and assembly workers, and machinists and transport workers. The trend really is irreversible. A link to the full article and report can be found below.

Finally, we’ve included a really interesting article on tall timber buildings. This one’s not just pushing the benefits of the material or construction systems. It does though for the first time pull together information, illustrations and photos of 10 of the tallest timber buildings from around the globe. Some are all-wood, some hybrid; some commercial and some residential. Some are conceptual and some completed or currently under construction. If you’ve lost track of exactly which project is the current title-holder of the world’s tallest wood building, you can check out the world leaders in the story below. Enjoy this week’s read.

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New Chinese particle board plant announced for Kawerau

A Chinese company has announced plans for a new particle board plant for Kawerau that is expected to bring 100 jobs to the district. The Chinese-based Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group has announced plans to establish the plant, to be built on Putauaki Trust land adjoining SH34, within two years.

It will produce 600,000cu m of panel boards a year for exports mainly to China. The announcement comes following a recent visit to China by representatives of Kawerau District Council, the Putauaki Trust, Toi-EDA, Eastern Bridge, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The delegation visited the Fenglin Group's Mingyang MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and Huizhou particle board plants, and met group founder Mr Liu, chairman Mr Cui and chief executive officer Mr Wang. Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton said a number of factors led to the group's decision to invest in Kawerau.

Overseas Investment Office approval and other consents now need to be obtained, but if everything goes to plan the plant should be fully operational by 2020. The Fenglin Group is a leading wood industry group in China, listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

It has four large-scale wood-based panel plants in Guangxi's Nanning and Baise cities and in Guangdong's Huizhou City, including two medium-density fibre board (MDF) facilities and two particle board (PB) facilities (one PB facility is in construction) with a total capacity of 1.1m cu m a year. The company also owns 14,000ha of fast-growing eucalyptus plantations for industrial use. More >>.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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Radial timber mill opened in Gippsland

A new state-of-the-art radial timber mill will be opening in Gippsland today and is set to boost both productivity for the mill and jobs for the region. Chris McEvoy, managing director of Radial Timber Australia said that the new mill opening in Yarram is a first of its kind in the world.

“Using Australian-developed technology, this new mill will have the ability of tripling the capacity of our old mill, Mr McEvoy said. Radial sawmilling is a process that initially cuts logs into wedges like a cake, in line with the way a log naturally splits as it dries”.

“This is different to conventional sawmilling which removes the edges of a round log to square it off before sawing into boards. This type of sawmilling allows us to produce more timber from smaller logs and can still successfully process sawlogs with splits,” he said.

Nathan Trushell, Acting CEO VicForests, said that the sawmill shows a promising future for both Radial Timber and the greater Victorian timber industry. “This is a great example of how our industry is constantly adapting and evolving,” Mr Trushell said.

The sawmill, which cost AU$4.5 million and took 12 months to build, provided local employment for the duration of the build and will also provide jobs for a number of new on-going workers at the mill.

“This expansion will secure our long-term viability within the industry and more than triple our production, bringing more jobs and activity to the region,” Mr McEvoy said. “We are confident that between our 10-year contract with VicForests and over 2000 hectares of high value plantations that we have established in the region that we will be around for many years to come,” he said.

Almost 100% of Radial’s products, which include shiplap cladding, decking, screenboards and a range of unique radial products, end up in high end Melbourne and interstate markets. Radial Timber is now in the planning stages for a further expansion of a new dry mill on the site adding another AU$1.3 million investment into the region.

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, will be officially opening the mill in a ceremony that will showcase this innovative technology and celebrate the exciting economic potential it will bring to the area.

Source: VicForests

For further coverage of the mill and opening, click here.

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Dr Tom’s on a forestry mission

Dr Tom Mulholland, Emergency Department Dr, best-selling author, TV and Radio Talk Show host, former NZ Forest Service trainee & International Keynote Presenter. For the Kiwis, he now has a regular column in the nations major Sunday newspaper.

For forestry companies and contractors, he is regularly seen out in the forest and in forestry towns spreading the good health message. He’s also tackling a session that looks beyond new harvesting equipment at growing healthy people within your forestry or contracting business. He’s also locked in to present at the HarvestTECH 2017 dinner in Rotorua on Tuesday 20 June.

So, just who is Dr Tom? Dr Tom Mulholland is an Emergency Department Doctor and GP with over 25 years’ experience in New Zealand. He has worked in Kaitaia Hospital in the North to Southland Hospital and the Sub Antarctic Islands as a doctor. He has worked in Tologa Bay, Chatham Islands, Papamoa in the east to Raglan, Taranaki and Greymouth in the west. He has hosted his own TV and Radio shows, written two internationally best-selling books and been a professional speaker to the likes of Google, Microsoft and Hilton for the last 10 years.

Dr Tom Mulholland, or ‘Dr Tom’ – has made it his personal crusade to save people from preventable chronic diseases. He’s been actively engaging with the forestry industry – out on site and parked up in his ambulance in small forestry towns. His mission, to offer free health checks to forestry workers. In the past 2 years of touring NZ in a retro Chevy V8 ambulance (and over 25 years as a Hospital Emergency Department Doctor and Rural GP), the rates of uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure and heart risk are the highest he has ever seen.

Sought after throughout New Zealand, and internationally now as an after-dinner presenter, Dr Tom will be providing HarvestTECH 2017 delegates with an entertaining, humorous and often controversial look at his one-man crusade that he’s been on. It’s going to be an entertaining – and informative ride.

Note: Places for this regions’ two-yearly logging event running on 20-21 June (with field tours either side of the conference) are filling fast. Places on one of the two field tours filled last week. For the ABB Field Tour, interest can still though be filed for the waiting list. Conference places are still available and a few spaces still remain on the FGR Field Tour. Further information can be found and registrations made on the event website,

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Forestry training and success being celebrated in the South

For the evening of Friday 12 May, the Southern Wood Council is expecting another huge turnout by local forestry companies, contractors and transport operators from throughout the lower South Island, New Zealand. The function is the Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards for 2017. Further details are attached.

The Council, representing all major forest owners and most of the major wood processing companies in Otago and Southland is running the 2017 Awards programme in conjunction with the industry training organisation, Competenz. The event profiles the real contribution that forestry and those working within the industry are making to the economic and social well-being of the region, celebrates the success of those from within the industry that have achieved formal training qualifications over the year and through a series of major awards, recognises the industry’s top performers from across the lower South Island.

The industry is again expected to rally on the night. The last two years, 2016 and 2015, have brought together over 350 forest managers, forestry contractors, wood processing companies, transport operators and key suppliers to the industry from throughout the region to the awards evening at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“The turnout by forestry workers, their families and supporters on the night is probably a true reflection of the momentum that’s been building over the last few years with on-site training and safety in this region” says Brent Apthorp, Secretary of the Southern Wood Council. “In addition to celebrating the training achievements of forestry crews, many travelling into Dunedin, some driving 3-4 hours to attend past awards evenings have brought with them other workers to celebrate the year – and to recognise the success of forestry workers, crews and companies that have stood out over the past 12 months”.

Presenters and speakers at this year’s awards evening include; Jamie MacKay, Host of NZ’s New Zealand’s flagship rural radio show, The Country, Hon. Louise Upston, Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Workplace Relations & Safety, Fiona Ewing, National Safety Director, Forest Industry Safety Council (or Council member), Fiona Kingsford, CEO, Competenz and guest speaker Warren Alcock, the NZ Rugby Players Association‘s first accredited players agent (representing more than 80 All Blacks including Ritchie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith).

If you’re from the Southland, Otago or North Otago regions, you should be there. It’s the largest gathering of the industry in the region by a long shot for the year. It’s also FREE to attend.

For those wishing to attend, please download the attached invitation, fill it in and send back to us or go onto the SWC website ( and send us through your details.

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Early expressions of Interest – ForestTECH 2017

The ForestTECH series has been run annually by FIEA since 2007. It is now firmly established as the technology event where forest resource managers, remote sensing and GIS specialists and inventory foresters from throughout Australia and New Zealand meet.

ForestTECH has become the annual platform for showcasing; new remote sensing technologies, advances in satellite imagery, mobile communications developments, systems for improving data collection, analysis and reporting, disseminating results from research and in-forest trials and the integration of this into operational, strategic and financial planning.

ForestTECH 2017 is being run this year in Rotorua, New Zealand on 15-16 November and again in Melbourne, Australia on 21-22 November. Input from forestry companies and feedback from last year’s event suggests that this year the focus for this year’s series will be on “unlocking the true value of data” and will include;

- Storage, processing and management of "big data"
- Analysing and using harvester data for inventory management
- The practical application of automation, robotics and sensors by forest managers
- Integrating virtual and augmented reality into forestry operations
- Results and lessons from reconciling remote sensing data in the field
- New innovations in mobile forest apps and collection tools
- Mobile communications advances in more remote locations
- Workflow solutions for data collected from airborne and UAV systems
- New mapping and GIS applications

Expressions of interest from forestry companies, key suppliers and researchers are now being sought to be involved as presenters at this year’s ForestTECH 2017 series.

If interested, please email details to BEFORE Friday 5 May.

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Kangaroo Island AU$55m timber deal to settle

Australia’s only listed timberland company, Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, has announced that it will settle its purchase of the former New Forests estate on Kangaroo Island on 28 April, following the successful conclusion of a AU$33.5m capital raising.

The purchase of the NF estate on Kangaroo Island for AU$55 million was announced and a deposit paid in October last year. The transaction means KIPT will own about 80 per cent of the plantations on the Island, which has around 18,000ha planted, mainly with bluegum.

The Company has access to a bank debt facility of AU$25m to assist in completing the purchase. Funds from the placement and rights issue announced last week will be used for the balance of the acquisition costs and for working capital.

Timber on Kangaroo Island is currently a stranded asset. While some pines were planted in the early 1980s for processing in the local sawmill, most of the Island’s eucalypts were planted (for woodchip) during the managed investment scheme fiasco in the mid-2000s. Accordingly, the maturity profile of the Island’s estate favours harvesting in the next few years.

The Company has lodged a development application with the South Australian government to construct a deep-water wharf to enable it to export around 500,000 green tonnes per annum. Funding for the wharf is already in place.

Forest productivity levels on the Island have proved to be excellent, due to reliable rain, mild summers and low evaporation. Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers now has the challenge of turning that productivity into cash, by getting approval for its deep-water wharf.

Photo: 17 year-old bluegums that are still growing at 25 MAI

Source: Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd

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Robots replacing human workers at an alarming rate

We all know, or at least suspect, that robots are taking people's jobs, but new research shows the dramatic degree to which industrial robots are replacing human workers and forcing down wages.

Each additional robot in the US economy reduces employment by 5.6 workers, and every robot that is added to the workforce per 1000 human workers causes wages to drop by as much as 0.25 to 0.5 per cent. Such are the conclusions reached by MIT's Daron Acemoglu and Boston University's Pascual Restrepo, who published their findings at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

No doubt, robots are having a transformative effect on the labour market in the US and elsewhere, and it's a trend that's likely to continue. This form of automation could soon be joined by another driver of technological unemployment: Artificial intelligence. According to an analysis by the International Data Corporation, virtually no job is safe.

Read more.

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Crucial softwood lumber announcement expected next week

The U.S. Commerce Department has said that it will announce on April 25 whether it will impose the first of two duties on Canadian softwood. A spokesman for the department said any countervailing duties would be applied on imports about a week later. A decision on anti-dumping duties is expected to be released May 5, but could be delayed.

Analyst Paul Quinn of RBC Capital Markets said he anticipates the Americans will impose "shock and awe" duties in the range of 30 to 40 per cent. "I wouldn't be surprised if the preliminary rates come out really high," he said from Vancouver. The impending announcement has Canadian forestry companies worried about job losses in the thousands, the Canadian Press reports. Read more.


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10 really tall wood buildings worth shouting about

Wood is a growing presence in modern skylines across the world, and these timber giants are worth shouting about from the treetops.

Although you can find wood buildings of considerable height in locales across the globe, most of these structures are limited to houses of worship and historic structures and not typically tall buildings found in dense urban settings — you know, residential high-rises, office towers and run-of-the-mill skyscrapers.

Once written off as structurally unsafe fire hazards with price tags too daunting to touch, high-rises built primarily or exclusively from timber — "plyscrapers" if you will — are having a moment. And you better keep an eye on them because like the majestic, life-giving perennials from which they’re sourced, these innovative edifices are slowly but surely increasing in height, so much so that’s it’s hard to keep track of which project is current title-holder of world’s tallest wood building. In the United States at least, it’s building codes that need to catch up to the trend.

Thanks to advances in technology and the rise in popularity of mega-strong, fire-resistant engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), tall timber buildings have emerged as an increasingly feasible — and vastly more sustainable — alternative to traditional high-rises built from concrete and steel. For one, the respective carbon footprints associated with tall wood buildings are relatively petite, making wood — particularly locally sourced and responsibly forested wood — an attractive and aesthetically pleasing choice.

In celebration of wood’s growing presence in modern skylines across the world, here are illustrations and photos of 10 tall timber buildings — some all-wood, some hybrid; some commercial and some residential; some conceptual and some completed or under construction — worth shouting from the treetops about. Check out the world’s tall timber building leaders by clicking here.


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Scion celebrates 70 years of forest research

One of Rotorua's largest employers has celebrated 70 years this month. New Zealand Crown Research Institute Scion was established in April 1947 when the then State Forest Service started a forest experiment station beside the existing nursery at Whakarewarewa Forest.

Its decision to centralise forestry research laid the foundation for today's Scion that supports New Zealand's third largest export industry. Scion employs more than 300 people at offices in Rotorua and Christchurch and, according to Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder, its research areas have evolved dramatically in the past 70 years.

In the 1950s research into growth modelling for forests and timber engineering had only just begun, but some of the timber drying, preservation and fibre production that were developed then are still used today.

Scion now works in fields from genetics to the design and use of wood, fibre and other forest resources reflecting the enormous increase in uses for forests and their products over the past 70 years and are now used as sources of energy for liquid biofuels, feedstock for high performance bioplastic in car components and adhesives in sustainable wood products.

"In our 70 years, Scion has undertaken research that has brought benefits to forestry in New Zealand and around the world," Dr Elder said. "It was our scientists who helped analyse the brown-rot fungi in the Auckland leaky homes in 2004, and it was our science that helped resolve technical issues with the production of wooden beams for the 2000 Sydney Olympics”.

"Trees are very important to New Zealand, for our economy, our lifestyles and our environment. Going forward, their significance will continue to grow and we will continue to serve New Zealand by optimising forests and protecting them from potential risks and diseases”. "This 70th anniversary is an opportunity look back on those achievements, but also to look forward as we continue to grow New Zealand through trees." Celebrations at Scion commenced with an in-house event on 10 April 10 and activities and events are planned throughout 2017 to honour Scion's past and look to the future.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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$7.7 million to promote the use of B.C. wood

The Government of British Columbia is investing $7.7 million to promote the use of B.C. wood, advance wood building systems and products, and expand global markets, Premier Christy Clark announced at the Council of Forest Industries annual convention last week.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement in her keynote speech, which spoke to government’s actions on the softwood lumber file. Diversifying markets and reducing reliance on the United States market continues to be a key part of government’s strategy to keep B.C.’s forest sector strong.

The annual funding is being made available to 14 different industry trade associations and research institutes that deliver market development programs on behalf of government and industry. B.C.’s contribution is being managed through Forestry Innovation Investment, the Province’s market development agency for forest products.

Of the $7.7 million, $5.9 million will be made available for activities targeted at expanding markets for B.C.’s wood products, with investment priorities that reflect evolving market opportunities in Asia and North America. The remaining $1.8 million will be made available for activities delivered through the Wood First program, which fosters the innovative use of wood and wood building systems in B.C. through research, education, marketing and capacity building. More >>

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Dumping decision a win for fair trade and Australian manufacturing

This week’s decision by Australia’s Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy to accept the Anti-Dumping Commission’s findings that companies in China, Indonesia, Brazil and Thailand exported dumped A4 copy paper into Australia is big win for fair trade and an important step towards a level playing field for domestic producers, Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO Mr Ross Hampton said.

Mr Laundy accepted the Commission’s findings that all Chinese, Thai, Brazilian and the majority of Indonesian exporters of A4 copy paper have been selling paper into Australia at prices well below their market value – with dumping margins ranging from 3 to 45 per cent – and in doing so caused “material injury” to Australian paper manufacturers by “price undercutting” the local industry.

Mr Hampton said the decision sent a strong message to overseas manufacturers that Australia is not a soft target for under-priced products which threaten the operation of domestic manufacturers and the tens of thousands of local jobs they support.

“Manufacturing in Australia has been under increasing pressure from imported products and it is crucial that we have an effective anti-dumping system to ensure fair trade,” Mr Hampton said. The decision also puts pressure on all government departments to support Australian Paper, after the Federal Department of Finance confirmed many of them are buying paper from these dumped sources.

Source: AFPA

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Satellites map carbon sequestered by forests

Led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the EU North State project has developed a new method of using satellite images to evaluate the forest carbon balance. The carbon balance indicates how much carbon is sequestered or released by forests each year. This enables the carbon balance to be displayed on digital maps, with an accuracy of up to ten metres.

The technique involves mapping the key features of forest areas and forests -- such as the location, main tree species, height and biomass -- from images provided by the European Sentinel satellites. These digital images are fed into a model, alongside climate data. The result is carbon sequestration maps. Such maps reveal which areas are carbon sinks or carbon sources. This information can be used for activities such as planning forest management and assessing climate impacts.

The simplest maps show the amount of carbon sequestered through photosynthesis, but take no account of carbon released by the decomposition of organic matter. More refined products take account of carbon released by living plants and carbon emissions from the soil. They provide a more precise idea of the carbon balance, but require the best source data. It was possible to create more advanced carbon balance maps of Finnish territory because sufficient ground reference data was available for guiding satellite image interpretation.

"The partners in the project developed advanced methods of interpreting satellite and drone images. The University of Helsinki did the computing for the final carbon balance maps, based on VTT's satellite image interpretation. We had to invent a new approach to processing such huge quantities of data," says Research Professor Tuomas Häme.

The University of Helsinki also developed a new way of using its carbon balance model to forecast growing stock volumes. The growing stock estimates for Finland yielded almost the same result as national forest inventories.

At their most detailed, the maps had a resolution of ten metres. Coarser maps with a resolution of 500 metres were used to calculate the balance for the entire boreal coniferous forest zone from Iceland to the Urals. The same techniques could be used for satellite image interpretation and assessing the carbon balance, despite the major differences in image resolutions.

The Sentinel satellite series forms the central part of the Copernicus Programme of the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA), which will provide free satellite data from across the globe over the forthcoming decades. The current total budget for the programme is over seven billion euros.

Simosol Oy was the third Finnish partner involved in the North State project, in addition to the University of Helsinki and VTT. The other participating nations include the United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The total budget for North State was just under three million euros. Preparations are being made to put the project's results into practice, which is expected to occur within two years. Häme will presented the results recently in Helsinki at the Baltic from Space meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Source: VTT,

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Tesla teases electric truck launch

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, last week sent shockwaves across the trucking world by tweeting the September launch of the company’s first all-electric truck.

“Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level,” Musk tweeted on his personal account, causing a stir across the trucking industry.

Musk first disclosed his plans for a commercial vehicle in July 2016, in his blog entitled “Master Plan – Part Deux,” posted on the Tesla website. His Master Plan included the company’s path beyond the Model 3 passenger vehicle, with plans for an electric cargo truck equipped with autonomous driving technology called Tesla Semi; a new-style electric bus, smaller than current models, capable of operating without a human driver; a pickup truck; a small SUV.

In February, Musk heightened speculation by telling the audience at the 2017 International Transport Forum in Germany, “I can’t say too much about the new products and the things we are developing, but from a pure technology point of view, everything that we’ve done on vehicles translates directly into trucks…There’s no reason that today you can’t make a very compelling electric truck.”

Source: Prime Mover Magazine

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South Korean Economy, Housing & Lumber Shipments

South Korea’s exports rose 11.2% on-year to US$40.3 billion in January, 2017, extending its winning streak to 3 months in a row, while imports plunged 19.7% to US$37.5 billion posting a 60-month straight month of trade surplus but down sharply from the previous month. The steep decline in trade surplus came as a rise in imports outpaced that of exports in January on rising oil prices.

The recovery momentum for the South Korean economy has remained fragile as an upturn in exports and investment was offset by a slump in consumer sentiment and a drop in private consumption.

Consumer prices gained 2% in January, the highest on-year gain since October 2012. To make things worse, the composite consumer sentiment index for January came to 93.3, the lowest since March 2009. Read more.


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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on ... the church gossip

Mildred the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business.

Several members did not approve of her activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old ute parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon.

She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing!

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away.

He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his ute in front of Mildred’s house ... walked home ... and left it there all night.

And one more for the end of the week. Remember, I just pass them on.

I woke up this morning at 8 and could sense something was wrong.

I got downstairs and found my wife face down on the kitchen floor, not breathing! I panicked. I didn't know what to do.

Then I remembered – the local cafe serve breakfast until 11.30am.

Gee - I was brave in adding that one.

And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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