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Geothermal steam heats export growth
25 February 2015
Geothermal steam heats export growth

TWO timber drying kilns heated by geothermal steam are now operating at the Sequal Lumber sawmill in Kawerau, boosting value and demand for the company’s sawn timber products.

The kilns underscore a landmark development in the Kawerau business community’s efforts to further develop the town as a major wood processing centre using its wood resources, wood wastes, its geothermal energy and its location close to the Port of Tauranga.

The kilns were fired up two weeks ago from steam bought from Ngati Tuwharetoa Geothermal Assets (NTGA), and delivered by pipeline.

NGTA is owned by Ngati Tuwharetoa Holdings, which in turn is owned by the Ngati Tuwharetoa (Bay of Plenty) Settlement Trust.

Sequal Lumber is a family-owned business with 50 and has been operating since 2008.

Sequal marketing manager Stuart Hazeldine said the company was currently kiln drying 2000 cubic metres of timber a month and the goal was to lift kiln-dried volumes to 6000 cubic metres a month by the end of the year.

Mr Hazeldine said there was significant export demand for kiln dried timber and the company was planning to double sales in the next two years.

Sequal Lumber exports 95 percent of its lumber to countries such as Somalia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Korea was Sequal’s biggest market for green, non kiln dried timber, Mr Hazeldine said.

The biggest market for kiln-dried timber is in China and Vietnam where it is extensively used for furniture.

“Our [timber] is used in higher value-added industries,” Mr Hazeldine said.

The potential for further growth was huge, he added.

Marketing and strategy manager Mike Edwards said the thing Sequal did differently to other sawmillers was to custom cut timber to order.

This allowed buyers to reduce their operating costs and be more profitable when they used Sequal’s lumber.

Mr Hazeldine said Sequal’s timber ranged in thickness from 20 millimetres to 100mm.

The timber is dried under pressure to a moisture content of 8 percent to12 percent.

A huge shed for keeping the dried timber dry is under construction close to the kilns.

Once the drying process is complete the geothermal steam is re-injected into the ground where it came from.

Wood for sawmilling and drying is sourced from anywhere within the Bay of Plenty.

Sequal Lumber operates two shifts with 13 on each shift..

Commenting on how Sequal Lumber was an example of Kawerau’s industrial symbiosis project in which wood processing developments were fostered as a way of strengthening Kawerau’s infrastructure, and to create jobs, Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell said there was a spin-off for everyone.

Source: Whakatane Beacon

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