High level bid to save SW mill

Karen HuntManjimup-Bridgetown Times

Forestry Minister Dave Kelly met Nannup Timber Processing directors on Friday in a bid to save the company’s green mill after the announcement of a restructure that will cost 30 jobs.

Mr Kelly confirmed the meeting had taken place after the company said Nannup’s green mill would close as soon as September 6.

“While the details of the discussions are confidential I will be continuing these discussions to explore options to keep the mill open,” Mr Kelly told the Times.

The directors had not commented publicly at the time of writing but a widely published letter to workers blames factors beyond the company’s control.

It cites poor sawlog quality, lack of resource security, “excessive increases” in sawlog prices, rising power costs and market demand.

Some workers would be offered jobs in the dry mill, which is understood to employ another 30 people, as the company assessed the operation’s longer-term viability.

While the letter cites “lack of resource security”, Mr Kelly rejected any link to the recently announced stay on logging at Barrabup forest pending an old growth assessment.

Forest Products Commission representatives met with a director of NTP on Thursday, Mr Kelly said, and FPC is continuing discussions to see what help it can provide.

He had been in contact with representatives of the mill workers while Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan had contacted the Nannup Shire Council.

He said he would work to find employment opportunities in the area if the closure proceeded.

Shire president Tony Dean said Nannup was a resilient community and tourism and agriculture could employ some former mill workers.

“It will be difficult but it’s not the end of the world,” he said. Cr Dean said there was no direct link with the Barrabup campaign but he warned against “locking up” forests.

“You can’t keep locking up forests like you’ve done in the last 20 years and expect the quality of timber and the quantity of timber to be there, it just doesn’t happen,” he said.

Auswest closed its Manjimup and Pemberton facilities and consolidated operations in Greenbushes last year. Nannup Timber Processing was contacted for comment.

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