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Mount Gambier sawmill upgrade exports

NF McDonnell and Sons sawmilling operation will send its first regular export shipment to South East Asia following a $2m upgrade of its facilities. Source: The Border Watch

The Mount Gambier sawmilling operation officially opened stage one of its multi-million-dollar expansion, which comes as welcome news for the region’s timber sector, the economy and jobs growth.

The timber company, which is a fourth generation family business, officially opened its stage one development that will allow the timber processor to cement new export and domestic market opportunities.

More than 120 people gathered for the official opening including former state treasurer and current health minister Jack Snelling and representatives from South East Asia’s largest distributor of wood pallet products.

NF McDonnell and Sons managing director Ian McDonnell announced the first regular shipment to Asia would leave later this month in a new venture for the company.

McDonnell said the company had doubled employment at its facilities in the past three years and was striving to be a “world competitive” mill within its chosen market.

He said a change in focus four years ago had driven new growth and the need to modernise and improve processes.

He said the change in direction was fuelled by the rise in the Australian dollar, the influx of cheap imports and the need to tap into emerging markets.

“We have had considerable growth to the point where we need to expand to take up opportunities,” said McDonnell, who foreshadowed further jobs growth within the company.

McDonnell also called on all three tiers of government to scrap “roadblocks” to drive new opportunities in the green energy sector for the timber industry.

He claimed the Federal Government must introduce new regulatory requirements to fuel new market opportunities for wood residue, such as those incentives given to the wind energy sector.

McDonnell also praised the State Government’s $1m new study being undertaken by Finnish researchers into the region’s forestry sector.

Mount Gambier Mayor Steve Perryman said NF McDonnell and Sons was synonymous in the South East forestry sector.

“This is a great news story for NF McDonnell and Sons and a great news story for our community,” Mr Perryman said.