Heyfield timber mill: Decision on closure postponed as Victorian Government works to reach deal
(AU) – The board of Victoria’s Heyfield timber mill, which is at risk of closure because of supply issues, has agreed to a government request to delay a decision on its future.
The Victorian Government asked the board of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) to postpone its decision by a week, so the Government could continue to negotiate a deal to keep the mill open and its 250 workers employed.
The mill is dependent on a viable timber supply from the state-owned VicForests, but has no supply locked in beyond June.
The company rejected VicForests’ last offer of a short-term contract at half the current volume, which it described as unsustainable.
ASH has proposed receiving younger regrowth timber to boost supply but said that would involve processing smaller logs. It wants the Government to provide millions of dollars to refit the timber mill.
ASH director Clinton Tilley said it was a tough time for the people of Heyfield, east of Melbourne.
“It’s very tight for us and it’s not only tight for us, it’s tight for the industry.
“Logging needs to be planned for the next season within the next four weeks. If that can’t be done the next season can’t start.”
Despite the tight timeline, Mr Tilley remained optimistic about the chance of striking a deal with the Government.
“The questions we’re receiving from government are leaving us very hopeful that they’re seeing the employment opportunities and needs of the town,” he said.
The ASH board also voted to close the mill for a day next week to allow staff to travel to State Parliament to participate in a rally in support of the mill.
Last month, about 1,000 residents attended a local meeting in Heyfield and were told the area would become a “ghost town” if the mill shut down.
Heyfield timber mill: Decision on closure postponed as Victorian Government works to reach deal by Peter Lusted. Available from <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-08/heyfield-timber-mill-decision-on-closure-postponed/8333732> [March 08 8:33 am]