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Newsletter: May 2015
Sawmilling SA
Sawmilling South Africa News
Steady growth in the South African economy

It has been a busy month for us here at the Association and part of our activities has seen visits to both the Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provinces.

Limpopo saw us attending another of the Biligom launches; this time up in their home town of Tzaneen. It was great seeing many of the Limpopo millers and members once again and also hearing first hand from the developers of the Biligom brand. There are some interesting developments with this ‘Eucalyptus to Structural Lumber’ initiative and it would seem that there is a bright future ahead for the Biligom producers.

News from our KZN colleagues is that the majority of millers in that region found that the first quarter of 2015 was a better quarter than the corresponding period of last year with volumes up and prices stronger. This is an observation from almost all the regions in the country so let’s hope the proverbial wheel has turned and that things keep getting better. An economist we spoke to recently is of the opinion that even though the South African economy has only been growing at 1,5% to 2% per annum, the supply of structural lumber has remained static or even decreased slightly and this is why we are seeing growth in both volume and price.


Also, in the last period a delegation consisting of member millers from the Limpopo and Mpumalanga regions, the Executive Director and Mr Lulamile Xate held a most constructive meeting with the CEO of SAFCOL, Mrs Nomkhita Mona, to discuss issues of a strategic nature that were felt to be of critical importance to the sawmilling industry in both Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Mrs Mona gave the delegation an enlightened insight into the challenges of running an SEO that is tasked with both supplying a sustainable resource to the private sector and is also required to operate at profitable levels. When questioned as to how the intention to export logs met the former, it was explained that in the current and foreseeable future, SAFCOL was projected to have an excess of sawlogs compared to demand from the local industry and therefore export was seen as a possible viable option. However, no logs have as yet been exported. It was also explained that SAFCOL would be looking at and considering a land expansion policy that would see the growing of the resource and that this could also possibly benefit buyers of logs in the future.

Other good news to be released recently is the start of the physical process of the reversal of approximately 22 000ha of the exit areas in the Western Cape. Members in that region have long been waiting for this process to move forward and this is indeed encouraging news for the buyers of sawlogs in the region.

With winter and the dry season fast approaching in the North of the country, we urge you all to be aware of the dangers of fire and to be vigilant at all times.

In the meantime, keep cutting straight and drying flat!

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

National news
More than half of DAFF R6bn budget allocated to grants


The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has proposed a budget of R6.383-billion for the 2015/16 financial year, of which R3.7-billion is ring-fenced for transfers of conditional grants and parliamentary grants.


Mondi Q1 profit soars to €236m


Dual-listed pulp and paper group Mondi’s first quarter operating profit surged 29% year-on-year to €236-million, owing to volume growth and lower input costs across most of the European businesses, good contributions from capital projects and acquisitions and higher selling prices in Russia and South Africa.

Operating profit was also 9% higher quarter-on-quarter, the group said in a statement on Wednesday, 13 May 2015.


25 MW Sappi biomass project added to SA’s growing renewables portfolio


Forest products group, Sappi, has confirmed the selection of its 25MW biomass-to-power project, to be erected at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, as a preferred bidder under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

The value of the project has not been disclosed but Sappi told media representatives that it expects the plant to be operational during 2018 and that there is also potential to expand the facility at a later stage to 55MW.


SA manufacturing increases 3.8% y/y


South Africa’s manufacturing production increased by 3.8% year-on-year, owing largely to an 8.2% increase in the food and beverages sector, which contributed 1.9 percentage points, Statistic South Africa said on Tuesday, 12 May 2015.

The manufacturing of petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products contributed 5.5% and 1.2 percentage points, while manufacturing production in the motor vehicles, parts and accessories sector grew by 13.3%. It also contributed one percentage point.


Sappi lifts Q2 profit by 75%

Pulp and paper producer, Sappi, has increased its net profit for the three months to 31 March 2015, by 75% to $56-million, compared with the profit of $32-million recorded in the March 2014 quarter.

CEO Steve Binnie on Thursday, 14 May 2015, said this was in line with the company’s expectations. Sappi’s operating profit, excluding special items, for the quarter was $104-million, up from $95-million in the March 2014 quarter and $74-million in the December 2014 quarter, which Binnie said indicated a “pleasant progression”.


International news
Chinese log imports jump 76% in March


Log arrivals to China surged in March with an increase of 76% over the previous month. This came after almost a year of declining log imports, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. New Zealand and Australia increased their volumes the most, together accounting for a record-high share of over 50% of the total import volume. Log import prices have trended downward since early 2014 and were in March 15% below the price a year ago.


Modular bio-battery plant turns biomass into energy


Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Energy and Safety Technology have developed a ‘biobattery’ in the form of a highly efficient biogas plant that can turn raw materials like straw, scrap wood and sludge into a variety of useful energy sources including electricity, purified gas and engine oil. The new plant design, currently being put to the test in a prototype plant in Germany, is said to be highly modular and economically viable even at the small scale.


Prefab building techniques - both ends of the size scale


As the market becomes increasingly mindful of environmental issues, prefabricated building solutions are acquiring greater prominence because of their heightened efficiency and convenience.

A key example of this is a new concept design released by German firm Weingartner Architects for a prefabricated high-rise apartment building made primarily from timber. The Woodscraper II concept consists of nine sparely designed "sky cubes" stacked on top of each other in a slightly staggered pattern and held in place via cantilevering from a central concrete core.

The central core that props up the sky cubes in place can contain as many as five smart elevators, as well as emergency stairs and plumbing and power infrastructure. The tower would reach a height of up to 200 metres and be capable of accommodating over 300 residents - a number chosen by the architecture firm because "history shows that 300 people build a happy, strong lasting community that works."


Wood does you good: nine well-clad health and wellness facilities


In 2010, the Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology (NTI) conducted a three-part study [PDF] on the health benefits of wooden interiors in healthcare facilities. Taking a very IDEO, human-centred design-based approach, NTI uncovered new ways to serve and support recovering patients by uncovering latent needs, behaviours and desires.


Equipment update


  Fitter / Turner Tugela Mill
  Production Manager Mill Finishing - C3 Saiccor Mill
  Warehouse Assistant Stanger Mill
  Front End Loader Driver Ngodwana Mill
  Processing Manager NFC Rwanda
Upcoming events
International Woodfibre Resource and Trade Conference


For the first time, the International Woodfibre Resource and Trade Conference will be held in the United States at the Savannah International Convention Centre in Savannah, GA. The conference (8th in the series) will take place from 2 to 4 November 2015 and will be followed by a field trip from 5 to 6 November 2015. The field trip will provide an opportunity for international delegates to see a cross section of the forest industry in Southern US.


On-line business directory

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:

1. Babanango Sawmill

2. Bracken Timbers

3. Busby Sawmills (Pty) Ltd

4. Elandskraal Houtverwerkers

5. Evergreen Timbers

6. Franklin Sawmill

7. Midlands Pine Products (Pty) Ltd

8. Sapla Timbers

9. Saw-Em Timbers

"Take advantage of listing in the Sawmill Directory and get direct quote requests for your timber products"

For FREE registration please contact Craig Schütte on +27 (0)79 5222 637 or email
Smile: it's free!

Understanding engineers

Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."

The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Advertise in the newsletter. Contact Lee Raath Brownie. +27 (0)82 371 0190
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