Coastal Sun July 18th 2002 – Logs, Not Waste, for Charcoal

Published with permission

Hands up those who thought that the charcoal plant would use twigs, branches, stumps, and rotting residue from the forest floor!

Kate Carnell, Executive director National Association of Forest Industries, stated in the Canberra Times of 20 May 2002:
“I would like to point out a few facts about the Mogo project: …”- The plant will ONLY use otherwise wasted residual timber from current harvesting practices (such as stumps and branches).”

Peter Anderton, Chief Executive of Australian Silicon said “We’ll be using timber waste lying on the forest floor, just removing waste which currently has no value – no habitat value, and no nutritive value,”

Vicki Dunne, Liberal MLA for Ginninderra, is Shadow Minister for the Environment, stated in The Canberra Times 7 March 2002:
“The ‘save the forests’ mantra is both simplistic and specious. In production of charcoal it is the residue of the tree after the sawlog has been cut that will be used in other words, logging waste. ….this clearing will assist in removing timber that would otherwise be a hazard in terms of fire, noxious weeds and vermin …”

According to the Timber Supply Agreement between State Forests of NSW and Australian Silicon Operations Pty Limited, MS Carnell, Mr Anderton and Ms Dunne have not done their homework.

The charcoal plant will use LOGS with a minimum diameter of 15cm and a minimum length of 2m, that have been trimmed of bark, branches and projections and shattered and jagged ends, and are “free of pronounced bends”.

TIMBER SPECIFICATIONS [from Schedule 2 of the Timber Agreement]

  • Timber to be delivered in log form;
  • No restrictions on moisture content;
  • At least 97% of log surface area to be bark free;
  • Lengths to 2.0 m. minimum and 11.00 m. maximum;
  • Diameter to 15 cm. minimum;
  • No restrictions on maximum diameter;
  • Logs more than 80 cm. in diameter must not exceed 2.5 m. in length. Logs may be split prior to delivery to avoid this requirement;
  • Branches and projections flush trimmed;
  • Shattered ends and jagged slovens removed;
  • Free of pronounced bends; and
  • Sweep 20 cm. or less measured over any 3.0 m. log section.

Defect Tolerances

  • Charcoal acceptable on logs;
  • No restrictions on spiral grain;
  • Logs with a large end diameter under 60 cm. must have an average of 10cm. of solid wood between the pipe and the outside circumference of the log.
  • Logs with a large end diameter over 60cm. must have a minimum average of 12cm. of solid wood between the pipe and the outside circumference of the log.
  • Rot must not exceed one quarter of the surface arm of the log at either end. Logs may be either docked or split prior to delivery to meet this specification

More logs to feed the charcoal retorts would appear to indicate less for the saw-mills, especially as council confidential report states there are plans to double the facility within 5 years.

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