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NewGen secures government funds to develop mill

NewGen timber mill in South Australia may have a solution to stem the demand for structural timber following a state government grant. More than $400,000 has been handed over to NewGen Timber to further develop the recently purchased site in an effort to increase the structural timber supply. Source: Border Watch

NewGen Timber directors Craig Nisbet and Shaun McDonnell recently took over the H and L Scheidl mill in August of this year and were soon successful in obtaining the grant.

Mr Nisbet said they were fortunate enough to have a mill which was operating on one shift, which then provided an opportunity to utilise the equipment and provide a quick boost to the local supply.

“We are now looking at upgrading the yard and the roadworks and providing more lighting which will allow us to operate at nighttime hours as well,” Mr Nisbet said.

“This will allow us to extend our hours of operation and therefore create employment opportunities for people.”

He said alongside employment opportunities, the increase of operating hours would also allow the mill to increase the timber supply and hopefully decrease the waiting time for building houses.

“Everyone is seeing the timelines for building houses and the strain that is on the timber supply at the moment,” Mr Nisbet said.

“We are hoping this upgrade will further help with that.

“During my time in the timber industry I have never seen such a demand for structural timber as is happening now.

“Traditionally Australian structural timber is made up of 20% imports largely from Europe and the difference we are seeing now is with the United States market, they tape it off with the global financial crisis and the markets are back on and like our housing market, the demand for housing in the US is also at an all-time high.”

He said with the demand coming from all corners of the world, structural timber within Australia is scarce for those wanting to build a new home or extend on their current one.

“The domains are higher but the supply is actually lower which is a real imbalance in the market at the moment,” Mr Nisbet said.

“That is what we are hoping to do, is to help with that balance.”

During a whirlwind visit to the region, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the ongoing demand for structural timber provided a unique opportunity for further development to other mills within the region

Mr Basham said the state government was looking into investing further funds into different timber mills across the state, including a number within the region.

“This will get the mills upgraded and bring more structural timber into the market,” Mr Basham said.

“We are now having the conversations that need to happen within the industry going forward so we understand their needs.”

“This ensures we make the right investments, and it is a commitment that we will make sure those future conversations have the best possible outcome.”

Mr Basham said throughout recent years, the forestry industry had changed with officials observing the supply demand for structural timber increase.

“We need to ensure we are adaptive and the industry can deliver,” he said.

The planned upgrades of the NewGen Timber mill are expected to be complete in April.