Image for $30m mill start, business told

TIMBER company Gunns says it plans to make a $30 million start on its Bell Bay pulp mill later this month.

Tenders have already been let for the first of the earthworks to be completed over 16 weeks from late this month or early August.

The company then wants to move straight into the next construction stage of the $2.3 billion pulp mill in November.

The timetable, revealed to a group of business people at a pulp mill site tour yesterday, means that Gunns would meet its August deadline for a substantial start on the mill.

The deadline is a condition of state government pulp mill construction permits.

In other forestry news yesterday:

• Premier Lara Giddings said Gunns’ sawlog contracts would be bought out.

• Resources Minister Bryan Green said Forestry Tasmania would share the profits of the Triabunna mill with the company planning to buy it from Gunns.

• Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth reiterated he would move a no- confidence motion in the government if a state loan to the Triabunna mill buyer was approved.

Gunns told the Australian Securities Exchange last month that it had started a major sale of assets to raise cash to meet debt requirements.

Gunns managing director Greg L’Estrange said at the time that the company would finance a start on the mill on its own if a joint venture partner could not be secured.

Mr L’Estrange told those at yesterday’s site tour, which was organised by the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, that the timeline allowed 26 months to build the mill and it was expected to be operating by early 2014.

Full ABC Online story HERE

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