The Gunns mill at Heyfield in Gippsland was sold to a consortium of new owners recently. It is called ASH (Australian Sustainable Hardwoods) and remains Australia’s largest hardwood timber mill. In mid-July it was complaining that it can’t gain financial credits to burn its ‘waste’ to generate ‘renewable’ electricity profitably, thanks to the Greens.
ASH’s chief executive Vince Hurley, was quite peeved that despite their operations being certified by the logging industry’s home brand certification system (Aust Forests Standards), Australian Safety Standards and a few other fairly meaningless tickets, the Federal government won’t accept how eco-sensitive this plan is.
ASH wants to burn native forest wood to supply electricity to Maffra, Heyfield, and other towns. They must have a lot of waste! They claim they currently use their sawdust to provide 85% of energy needs for steaming timber and kiln drying. It buys in 15 % of its energy in the form of electricity. And they are saying that they could also power the nearby towns?
Even if the price of brown coal electricity increases, Vince Hurley says that it would still be hard to compete as they’d need to invest in very expensive power generating equipment. If we didn’t know the logging industry any better we’d say they were angling for a government hand-out.
At their peak they can process 155,000m3 of native forest timber a year. This is over one-third of Victoria’s native timber cut.