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Newsletter: August 2015
Sawmilling SA
Sawmilling South Africa News
A tribute to Gary Schwarz

Well, here we are in the middle of one of the colder winters in recent times and at the start of another fire season, which unlike the weather, we hope will not be one of the severest. We urge all forestry people to take care over the next two months, especially those in the north.

We start this month’s news on a very sombre note and that is to inform you of the sad passing of Mr Gary Schwarz, the general manager of Bracken Timbers. Gary tragically succumbed to his long battle with cancer on the 30th July surrounded by his family and friends. Gary was a highly respected sawmiller and leader, who had extensive experience in the industry and who, for the past 13 or more years, had moulded Bracken Timbers into one of the more substantial names in the sawmilling industry. A competitive and enthusiastic sportsman, Gary will be sorely missed by his industry colleagues and wide circle of friends and I am sure you all join me in offering our heartfelt sympathies to his family during these difficult times.


The regional SSA meetings and talks during August will focus on sawdoctoring

We would like to remind all members and friends of SSA to diarise the regional meetings/information sessions that will be held in each of the regions during the month of August.

This year the focus of the meetings will be ‘Saw Doctoring’ and we will have Mr Barry Muller, a lecturer at Saasveld and Mr Robert Welsh of Saw Specialists with us. Each will be presenting on different aspects of saw doctoring.

Barry’s talk will be based on wet sawing and the importance of getting the fundamentals right and Robert will be concentrating on the basics of saw doctoring and how these influence production and accuracy.

We will start in Mpumalanga on Monday, the 17th August at the Sappi Lomati sawmill in Barberton then move on to KZN on the 18th, the meeting to take place at the Tekwani offices at Umlaas Road.

On Wednesday, 19th August, we will be in the Eastern Cape at the CJ Rance Kubusi Mill and we will end on Thursday, 20th August in the Southern Cape at Saasveld. The meetings in Mpumalanga and KZN start at 10h00am and those in the Eastern and Southern Cape at 09h00am.

We hope to see as many of our members and saw doctors there as possible. Don’t miss this event as you may just pick up something that could sort your sawing troubles out.

News from the market place is that despite all the negativity that one reads in the press about the South African economy, sawmillers in all regions are reporting better than expected sales.

As we all know, structural lumber sales are driven by the building and construction industry and that is exactly why we, SSA, subscribe on your behalf to the BMI-BRSCU strategic forum. The next presentation by Dr Lewis was held at the Johannesburg Country Club on the 7th August at 08h00am. Those who attended this event found it helpful in their strategic planning. Dr Lewis’s most recent report will be sent to all members under separate cover.

For those who will be attending the World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Durban in September (7th to 11th) don’t forget to visit the combined SA Forest industries stand in the exhibition area. SSA will be there together with all the other associations, companies and institutions. The WFC is only held every six years and this is the first time it will be held on African soil since its inception in 1926. The theme of the congress is “Forests and People Investing in a Sustainable Future.”

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

National news
IDC puts two biomass plants up for sale


The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has put its two biomass pellet manufacturing plants up for sale. Potential buyers, who would be subject to a confidentiality agreement, were invited last week to submit their offers for the IDC’s 100 000 t/y Coega-based biomass plant and the 80 000 t/y Zebra Pellets plant, in Sabie, Mpumalanga. “The IDC wishes to dispose of these plants and interested parties are, therefore, invited to submit written expressions of interest to acquire these plants whether individually or together,” the firm said in its call for expressions of interest.


How a South African furniture company found a new market in Ghana


At the start of 2010, Petersen’s, an 18-year-old South African-based wooden furniture company, was in a tight spot. It was just before the start of the football World Cup in South Africa and business was slow as all projects were put on hold. In addition, the company’s exports to Europe also started to decline. “We had to find new markets, and we had to find them very, very quickly,” the company’s managing director Gary Petersen last week said at a conference in Cape Town.


Steinhoff moves to acquire Illiad in R1.3bn deal


Furniture and household goods manufacturer and retailer Steinhoff International has made a R1.3-billion offer to acquire building materials distributor Illiad Africa. The acquisition would be carried out through a scheme of arrangement, with the offer price at R10 a share, plus a 24c special dividend to be paid by Iliad before the date on which the scheme would become effective. This represented a 24.6% premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price calculated at the close of trade on 15 July and a 10.7% premium to the closing price of Iliad ordinary shares on 14 July.


Mondi’s discipline packs a punch


International packaging and paper group Mondi delivered "excellent" results in the six months to June, with all business units delivering significantly improved results, CEO David Hathorn said on Thursday, 6 August 2015. Underlying operating profit of €490m soared 30% from a year earlier, with underlying earnings of 67.8 euro cents per share rising 31%. This was underpinned by turnover advancing 10%, higher volumes, generally good prices and acquisitions. "It is an excellent set of numbers, both operationally and financially," Hathorn said.


Teachers train for new-look classes


Teachers from several Western Cape schools are spending their holidays working on construction sites, doing welding work and fixing cars – and it’s not to earn an extra buck. Instead, they are getting hands-on experience in the new revised curriculum for technical schools, which will be introduced next year and is expected to increase study and work opportunities for pupils. The Western Cape Education Department’s Dr Joe Bronkhorst said the revised curriculum would be introduced across the country in Grade 10 from next year and 130 Western Cape teachers were receiving training to help them get to grips with the new system during the holidays.


South African unemployment rate drops to 25 percent


South Africa’s unemployment decreased to 25 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from a ten-year high of 26.40 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The Unemployment Rate in South Africa averaged 25.27 percent from 2000 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of 31.20 percent in the first quarter of 2003 and a record low of 21.50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Unemployment Rate in South Africa is reported by the Statistics South Africa.


Sappi’s profits plunge as maintenance costs exceed expectations


Shares of global paper and packaging group Sappi on Friday, 7 August 2015, dropped more than 6% on the JSE after the company reported zero earnings growth in the third quarter. Sappi, which has operations across Europe, North America and Southern Africa, reported earnings per share excluding special items at two US cents in the June quarter, unchanged from the year-earlier period. Profit for the period, however, plunged by 76% to $4m, due to seasonal weakness, planned maintenance and the stronger dollar. "The third quarter is seasonally the weakest for Sappi," said CEO Steve Binnie.


Wits exhibition pays tribute to late sculptor Schütz


For years the curators at the Wits Art Museum (WAM) wanted to showcase Peter Schütz’s sculpture. The time has come. Schütz’s work explores violence, myth, spirituality and religion and the sculptures on display at the museum in Braamfontein, Johannesburg comes from the height of his career, which coincided with his years at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Schütz died in 2008. Most known for his carvings in soft jelutong wood, Schütz’s work is held in galleries and corporate collections in South Africa and across the world. He participated in group exhibitions with luminaries such as Penny Siopis, Walter Oltmann and Neels Coetzee, and had many solo exhibitions. Perhaps his most iconic work is 2004’s St Sebastian, now part of the Standard Bank corporate collection.


Mondi signs land reform settlement agreements with KZN communities


International packaging and paper group Mondi on Thursday, 23 July 2015, signed a settlement agreement with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for land claims lodged by the Mkhuzane community for land in the Richmond area and the Nodunga community for land in the Stanger area, both in KwaZulu-Natal. The agreements included the signing of lease agreements between Mondi and the two communities for the purpose of commercial forestry, which would run for an initial period of ten years, subject to further renewal thereafter.


Sappi sells another recycled packaging paper mill


Pulp and paper manufacturer Sappi has sold its Cape Kraft recycled packaging paper mill, in Cape Town, to the Golden Era group for an undisclosed amount. This sale, in addition to the recently announced sale of its 200 000 t/y Enstra mill and recycled packaging business, in Springs, to Corruseal, would net Sappi around R600-million. In March this year, Sappi initiated a closed tender process after receiving many expressions of interest to buy the Cape Kraft mill, which used around 67 000 t/y of waste paper to produce 60 000 t/y of 100% recycled paper.


International news
Canada Details Uniboard MDF Mill Investments of $5.3 Million


The Government of Canada detailed its investment in Uniboard's Sayabec plant in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Quebec mill expansion. The particleboard plant will adopt a pre-heating technology - the first application in North America - to expand production of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) at the plant. The two-phased project involves integrating a European technology for the high-temperature steam preheating of raw particleboard, and subsequently adding a panel laminating line to better meet the diverse demands of the market. Loans and grants totalling $5.3 million were awarded in the form of a $3 million repayable contribution through Canada Economic Development's Quebec Economic Development Program and a $2.3 million non-repayable contribution through Natural Resource Canada's Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program. The funding from both CED and Natural Resources Canada will go to financing the acquisition and installation costs. Overall investment is $29 575 000.


IKEA acquiring forests, aims to limit wood consumption


IKEA acquired a 33 600-acre forest in Romania, making the furniture giant's operations there fully vertically integrated. The forest was owned by Harvard University, part of its endowment run by Harvard Management Company, which sought 383 million Romanian le - $116 million US - according to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper. It was sold to Greengold European Capital SA and then to IKEA Group. Ikea said the acquisition gives it a local, renewable wood supply for furniture production. “Through this acquisition Romania becomes the first country where the IKEA Group will manage its own forest operations and we aim to set an example for sustainable forest management,” said Frederik de Jong, chairman of IKEA Resource Independence Investments.


Rwanda: new drive to promote agro-forestry


The world Agro-forestry Centre moved to strengthen partnership with natural resources, agriculture and infrastructure ministries in identifying smart agro-forestry systems to help develop 'integrated-food-energy systems' in Rwanda. Announcing the development yesterday in Kigali, Adrie Mukashema, the deputy director general of forest management at Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, said the move seeks to pursue efficient clean bio-energy production and boost agriculture productivity. "The system integrates trees on farmlands. They avail bio-energy, especially in rural areas and reduce threats to other forests. The related biomass (charcoal and firewood) must also be produced in sustainable and efficient ways that control gas emission leading to climate change. Agro-forestry also increases agriculture productivity by enriching soil fertility and curb soil erosion among other things," she said.


Equipment update


  Sales and Marketing Representative  
  Estate Manager Melmoth area (KZN)
  Health Practitioner Saiccor Mill
  Production /General manager Nelspruit
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FREE listing in the Sawmill Directory for all sawmills.

Sawmill Directory – We would like to thank the following Sawmills for listing in the FREE Sawmill Directory:

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For FREE registration please contact Bronwyn Hayes on +27 (0)82 333 3112 or email
Smile: it's free!


Two engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking at its top. A woman walked by and asked what they were doing. "We're supposed to find the height of this flagpole," said Sven, "but we don't have a ladder."

The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple of bolts and laid the pole down on the ground.

Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced, "Twenty one feet, six inches," and walked away.

One engineer shook his head and laughed, "A lot of good that does us. We ask for the height and she gives us the length!"

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