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February 2016
Sawmilling South Africa News
Now that we are well into 2016, we can look forward and try to predict the future for sawmillers for the rest of the year. In my last newsletter I explained that it appeared as though 2016 had got off to a good start, with millers reporting robust sales demand, and that it would be interesting to see if the momentum could be sustained.

Well now we can say with reasonable certainty that the momentum has definitely remained and that sawmills from across the country are reporting better-than-expected sales. If one looks at the Crickmay Lumber Index you will note that the upward trend last year as at November 2015 was 8.5% year on year and it will now be interesting to see what the latest (January 2016) number is once the Lumber Index is released early next month. Mills are also reporting lower stock levels across all grades and this should also assist prices as we move into a more favourable supply-and-demand situation.
 
Other good news for the sector is that serious work has now begun on the Skills Development Initiative that was launched between SSA and the FP&M Seta. The first “skill” (that of Saw Doctor) has now been elevated to a Trade and, as mentioned above, work on the Qualification development has begun in earnest. Next will be Kiln and Boiler Operator and then on to Wetmill and Drymill, as well as Logyard. This is a great step in the right direction and an example of how the association is working positively for the industry. We are proud of the efforts of the association in getting the necessary funding for the initiative.
 
Your Executive Management Committee met for the first time in 2016 in JHB last week and we are pleased to report that the Exco has finally come to agreement on the revised fee-gathering model for the association’s funding. You will recall that a revised model was proposed at the AGM but it was agreed that the Exco should investigate ways of making the model more equitable for all sawmillers, especially for the smaller mills who under the original proposal would have found themselves with a substantial increase in levies. As the reworked proposal is quite different from the original, we will be corresponding in the near future  with all members of SSA to explain the model and illustrate how it would affect each individual mill; thereafter it will be placed on the agenda of the next AGM to be ratified.
 
Another decision taken by the Exco was that it would support the ongoing Tree Espacement research currently being undertaken by the University of Stellenbosch for the 2016 year, but that it expected to see the final results of this research by the end of the 2016 year. The association (SSA) has been suporting this vital project together with FSA and various individual forestry companies for the past three years and feels that the time is drawing near for results to be concluded.
In this respect the original Masters Thesis done by Justin Erasmus and entitled  “The effect of planting density on Pinus patula stem form, wood properties and lumber strength and stiffness”  has been published and is available on the university’s website. Do yourself a favour and take the time to read through the thesis – it will enlighten and inform you of the potential benefits of adjusting your planting espacement for improved inherent characteristics in pine saw logs.
 
If we are to sum up 2016 for the sawmilling sector in one word, it would be "Improved". Lets hope we can sustain the “Improvement”  as we move forward and enjoy the fruits of our success. Good luck.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa
National News
Preparing for the rocky road
Our industry is in a position to survive, and even thrive, during economic hardships. We learnt the strategies for doing so during the global economic downswing of 2008, and will weather the current economic constraints by continuing to apply, and even improve upon, these lessons. read more
Sappi profit jumps after dissolving wood pulp prices rise
Sappi, the world’s biggest producer of dissolving wood pulp, said first-quarter profit more than tripled after higher prices for the cotton substitute helped offset the effects of a drought in South Africa on volumes. read more
Hundreds of deck railing ideas
Renovating your home or outdoor area? Mountain Laurel Handrail has hundreds of great deckrail ideas to share with you... read more
Producer inflation rises as  food pressures build up
Higher producer inflation suggests that consumers may pay more for goods on the shelves, although weak demand may prevent excessive price increases. read more
International News
New sensors for rapid evaluation of high-yield pulp attributes
Most high yield pulp mills produce various grades of pulp and therefore experience frequent grade changes on their production lines.  read more
New sensors for rapid evaluation of high-yield pulp attributes
Most high yield pulp mills produce various grades of pulp and therefore experience frequent grade changes on their production lines.  read more
New bio-based lightweight material unveiled
The research institutes Innventia and Swerea SICOMP have worked together to develop the first carbon-fibre composite ‘demonstrator’ from softwood lignin. The lightweight, fuel-efficient car of the future can be made using this material. read more
Trade of logs in Baltic Sea region fell 10% in 2015 because of substantially lower demand for softwood pulp logs in Finland and Sweden
After reaching a record high in 2014, log trade in the Baltic Sea fell by 10% in 2015. Most of the decline was that of softwood pulplogs, while trade of sawlogs actually increased to reach its highest level since 2007, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. read more
Will RFID tags remain on logs during handling and storage?

Using RFID tags on logs greatly improves the efficiency of their traceability – but will they remain on the logs in the harsh logging environment? read more

Why wood warps
There are many reasons why a board can be downgraded. Physiological characteristics are, for the most part, beyond our control and most mills have measures in place to minimize losses from machining problems. read more
North American overseas pellet exports reached a new record high with the US South shipping 77% of the volume
The wood pellet industry keeps investing in new production capacity in the US South because of higher pellet demand in the United Kingdom, reports the North American Wood Fiber Review. read more
ICC code for tall buildings
The International Code Council (ICC) board of directors has established an ad hoc committee to explore the building science of tall wood buildings. read more
 
China has become the major destination for Eucalyptus chips from Australia with record-high shipments in 2015 
Australia has increased exportation of Eucalyptus chips by 58% in three years to reach a record-high in 2015, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. read more
China to increase future wood imports
China's huge wood demand, in relation with its economic and social evolution, faced with the insufficient forestry development, will inevitably increase wood imports in the following years. read more
Log and lumber import value to China drops 25 per cent in 12 months
The import value of logs and lumber to China has fallen by 25% in 12 months because of declining housing constructions, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. read more
Robotic tree feller to improve operational safety
The forestry industry in New Zealand has unveiled a robotic tree logger to improve operational safety, reduce injuries and boost production. read more
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