SA timber manufacturer to kick-start $4m upgrade


NF McDonnell & Sons in Mount Gambier – one of the biggest businesses in the softwood milling industry in the South East – is set to begin a $4 million upgrade at the beginning of next year.

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The company – which is involved in log hauling, harvesting, road transport, farming and sawmilling – said that the expansion is set to boost production and competitiveness; NF McDonnell & Sons is already one of the largest exporters of timber products in Australia.

After receiving funding from two rounds of the South East Forestry Partnership Program – $4.2 million in 2013 to install a HewSaw 250 in its Mount Gambier sawmill, and a further $1 million in 2015 to install equipment to enable processing of up to an additional 100,000 m3 of small diameter logs a year – the company will use the investment to realise its Small Sawlog Project.

“The Small Sawlog Project involves an upgrade to our board handling systems in our primary mill, giving us the ability to fully automate this process and improve the competitiveness of our business,” NF McDonnell & Sons General Manager Craig Nisbet said.

“We expect the benefits of this project will extend far beyond our own business – processing an additional 100,000m3 of timber currently destined for export will provide opportunities both within our business and for suppliers, customers and the broader community. During the past five years we have seen our staff numbers increase significantly in line with our business growth. By developing an internationally-competitive operation, we believe this project will provide increased job security for our staff.”

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher visited NF McDonnell & Sons in Mount Gambier on Saturday as part of the State Government’s Country Cabinet on the Limestone Coast where he pointed out the value of the South Australian forestry sector which contributes nearly $3 billion in economic activity for the state each year.

The SA forestry sector employs over 13,000 people.