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Hermal Announces Hardwood CLT Mill

Hermal Announces Hardwood CLT Mill

Burnie, Tasmania Hermal Group

Forest Industries Assn. of Tasmania (FIAT) and Australian Forest Products Assn. (AFPA) announced that Hermal Group is building a $190 million hardwood sawmill and hardwood cross-laminated timber complex in Burnie in northwest Tasmania, Australia. It will be called Tasmanian Amalgamated Renewable Timbers.

The Tasmanian Government has committed $13 million in grant and training support funding for the project. Once complete, the facility will employ 200. The facility will process more than 300,000 m3 of sustainable plantation hardwood logs each year.

The Hermal Group is a long-established, private family group run by the Goldschlager family in Melbourne, Australia. The family has been continuously involved in the timber industry for more than seven generations. The Hermal Group is also experienced in Property Development, Project Management and Property Investment. Until recently The Hermal Group was the owner of an ash sawmilling and value-added business, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH), which was sold to the Victorian government.

For three years the Hermal Group has invested in research and development on developing methods to use juvenile plantation hardwood timbers, specifically the species eucalyptus nitens, as a kiln dried lumber in value-add products manufacturing. The Hermal Group is proposing the conversion of juvenile eucalyptus into high value structural timber to take advantage of multi-story mass timber construction.

“There is an opportunity to create a new vibrant and viable hardwood plantation based, high-value industry in Tasmania which is why we are building this new facility,” the company states.

Separately, the Group is working with Moash University on “Bio-Char-Paste” fuel, which could be suitable to power a Direct Injection Carbon Engine (DICE) or diesel-style engine.

Tasmania is a market leader in Australia in terms of the availability of plantation growth hardwood. E.Nitens is a predominant plantation species in Tasmania due to it being able to attain a higher fiber content in a short period of time. Currently there is a substantial amount of holdings across the state of 15-to-25-year-old plantation timbers. The largest holder of this resource is Forico.

Of the 41,000 ha of eucalyptus plantation under Forestry Tasmania’s management, only 15% (6,300 hectares) is 20 years or older, while 33% (some 13,900 hectares) is younger than 10 years. By 2027, these plantations are forecast to produce about 77,000 m3 of high-quality pruned logs annually.

Forestry Tasmania grows two main eucalyptus species, eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum) and eucalyptus nitens (shining gum). Both species have been selected for high growth rates and desirable wood properties. Approximately 80% of the total hardwood estate is currently shining gum, as this species has better frost and disease resistance than Tasmanian blue gum.

However, Tasmanian blue gum timber has superior wood properties (density, strength and pulp yield) to shining gum, making it more commercially attractive. As plantations mature and are harvested, plantings of Tasmanian blue gum may increase to around 50% of the eucalypt plantation estate.

Changes in the building market for timber construction have created a market opportunity for cross-laminated structural timber. “We have successfully developed and tested the source timber and dried product for use in cross-laminated construction,” the company comments.

The cross-lamination process has been used with softwood products; however the difference here is the use of juvenile plantation hardwood, which the company states enhances the structural properties of the end products compared to pine.

Hermal has identified two European machinery options both of which allow for single pass sawing of logs in the proposed sawmill.  Following the drying process the lumber will be placed into the laminated production facility.

Administration, management, marketing and support operations will be housed in Burnie with the production facility.

In 2015, CLT was incorporated into the national design specification for wood.

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