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Big River Group grows bigger with new installation

The expansion of one of the Clarence Valley’s largest timber factories, Big River Group, is a huge boost to the local economy and sets the bar high in supplying the sustainable manufacturing of high-quality specialist technical timber products across New South Wales. Source: Timberbiz

The upgrade includes the installation of state-of-the-art machinery that will substantially increase Big River’s output, enabling them to supply an unprecedented volume of timber products.

New South Wales State Nationals Member for Clarence, Richie Williamson, and Federal Nationals Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, were onsite for the official opening of the $22 million upgrade.

The upgrade was supported with $10 million in co-funding from the former NSW and Federal Nationals Governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to help consolidate the company’s operations.

Mr Williamson said Big River Group has been part of the local landscape since the 1960s and has grown into a multi-million-dollar business that is renowned for its high-quality product and for being one of the Clarence Valley’s major industry employers.

“Following the Black Summer bushfires in 2019, the long-term supply of logs for its operations was severely impacted and it became apparent there was insufficient log resources in the Tumut region to sustain the Wagga Wagga facility,” Mr Williamson said.

“Big River Group made a business decision to consolidate its operations to a single site at Grafton, where a sustainable supply of both hardwood and softwood logs exist.

“While this was a difficult decision for the company, it’s a positive outcome for our community and comes at a critical time after back-to-back challenges.”

Mr Williamson said it was important to back projects that put people back in work, retain existing jobs and stimulate local economies, as well as deliver high-quality timber products to the construction industry well into the future.

Mr Hogan said the $22 million project will increase the local workforce to 75, securing the jobs of existing employees and its 610 employees nationally.

“I am focused on backing projects that are creating and retaining jobs across our region,” Mr Hogan said.

“This project will enhance the production capacity for all plywood products, including high quality formply products, architectural panels and high strength plywood for civil construction.”

Big River Group CEO, John Lorente, said the upgrade signifies not just an expansion of their operational capacity, but a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the future of a timber industry in NSW.

“With the support of the Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program, we are poised to make a significant impact on the availability of high-quality timber products, while also securing and creating jobs locally, regionally and nationally,” Mr Lorente said.

“We are thankful for the support provided by both the Australian and NSW Governments through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund. The funding provided has been crucial in allowing us to modernise our operations and expand our team.”