No lifeline for Australian Sustainable Hardwoods

Kate Withers

Premier Daniel Andrews declared that no concessions, like those made for Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, will be applied to Heyfield’s Australian Sustainable Hardwoods as native logging is being wound up.

The state government is a 49 per cent shareholder of ASH – which employs 170 people – after its $40 million buyout in 2017.

“There will be no special treatment for them [Heyfield],” Mr Andrews told media last week.

“They will have to win the timber they want for additional orders after 2024.

“I will be confident they can make a transition [to plantation timber] and they have some time to do that.”

The ASH mill purchases mountain ash from VicForests, which equates to about 90 per cent of business, as well as Jarrah from Western Australia and a small amount of American Oak.

Mr Andrews maintained the company would have to “bid for timber” from wind-down in 2024 until the end of native logging in 2030.

“There’s been a lot of conversations about the Heyfield mill, its size and scale and the fact they’ve seen this transition [coming] for quite a while,” he said.

“I think there’s some exciting opportunities for different products and processing different types of timber there.

“But with the notice we’ve given them and every mill, they have the time to work with us to plan it out.”