A new study has revealed that upgrading Kinleith Mill’s energy infrastructure and building a new large-scale sawmill to supply timber and bespoke engineered mass-timber products could provide hundreds of jobs and boost the economy, Forestry Minister, Peeni Henare said today.
The Wood Beca study – a project between the Government and Oji Fibre Solutions – showed that upgrading the mill could create 200 jobs per year and generate upwards of $566 million in additional GDP per annum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65,000 tonnes of CO2- equivalent per annum.
The Kinleith Mill is a key strategic asset for Aotearoa New Zealand, and one of its largest industrial sites.
Minister Henare says the site requires some energy infrastructure upgrades to remain competitive.
“This presented an opportunity for Government to partner with OjiFS to investigate how a redevelopment could deliver on key Government objectives through the creation of a bio-hub.”
“Earlier this year I announced a $57 million fund would enable the Government to partner with wood processors to co-invest in wood processing capacity to create products like sawn structural timber and engineered wood.
“This could help make upgrading the Kinleith Mill a reality if it can raise the funds needed.”
He said the Government wanted to see more logs processed onshore in a bid to boost forestry sector value, lift economic performance and resilience, and create high-wage jobs in regions.
The sawmill output could also help to increase the quantity of carbon stored in wood and create low-emission products for use in building and construction, the Minister said.
“Depending on the staging and configuration of the possible options, the construction phase could contribute $2.5 billion of additional GDP over a three-year period.”
“I’m excited by the potential of this project to help build a high-value, high-wage and low-emissions economy in line with the vision set with the sector in the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan,” said Mr Henare.
In early 2022, TUR released the Wood Fibre Futures Project which included business cases on sawmills, solid fuel, bio-crude and liquid biofuel.
TUR is partnering with private companies and government agencies to explore the feasibility of additional wood processing, bioenergy and bio-products.
Oji Fibre Solutions is a world-leader in pulp, paper and packaging products, and the Kinleith Mill employs more than 500 people in the South Waikato.