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Newsletter: July 2015
Sawmilling SA
Sawmilling South Africa News
Stable structural lumber market

It’s six months down and six months to go and still things are looking better for sawmillers this year than last; let’s hope it stays this way.

We start this month’s news off unfortunately on a sad note and that is because Mr Dave Mettlerkamp, the owner of Geelhoudvlei Timbers and a well-known personality in the Southern Cape’s father sadly passed away in the month. I am sure that all sawmillers join us in wishing Dave and his family our condolences in this time of reflection. Also, on another sobering note, many of you may have met or had dealings with Mr Gerry van Leeuwen of the company Wood Markets from Canada. Gerry was a regular visitor to our ‘Forest’ shores and his intellect and experience in international markets was highly regarded in South Africa. Sadly, Gerry also passed away during the month. Please see the article below in this regard.

That’s enough bad news for this month, so what about the good you may ask? The good news is that the structural lumber market is still holding its head and sawmills are still reporting lower stocks and slightly better prices. The news coming out of the ‘economists’ though is confusing as some are telling us that things will deteriorate in the next six months and other are saying that the current growth will be sustained. As sawmillers we just need to keep our heads down and keep sawing logs into planks. That sounds a lot like burying your head in the sand. But on the other hand, if you stick to what you know best, things will come right.

On a completely different topic. We are calling on older sawmillers who may be able to recall the time in the late 80’s that the then Competition Board was reported to have made a ruling against the organised sawmilling industry in regard to price fixing.


Dave Mettlerkamp

Photo: SA Forestry magazine

This ruling resulted in the dissolving of the Timber Marketing Agreement (TMA). We here at SSA are trying to obtain a copy of that ruling so that we can study it and see exactly what it excludes sawmillers from doing in the open market place and to date we have had no success in tracking down such a copy; not even from the Competition Authorities themselves. So, if there is a sawmiller out there who can shed more light on the subject, please get in touch with us here at SSA. Drop us a line at

We would like to urge you to visit our website (in fact, it’s your website) at to get an update on equipment for sale, jobs available and recent news and events. Some of you might also like to take advantage of the sawmill directory in an effort to expand your mill’s footprint in the market place. Go take a look and find out for yourself!!

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

National news
Lags in land claims frustrate SA forestry firms


The issue of land claims for forestry companies is fraught with tension and ambiguity. The language used in relation to such claims includes notions of ownership, possession and, frequently, "unrealistic expectations". There is often conflict with claimants after settlement, often due to the failure of authorities to deal with people living on the land who were not party to the claim. Forestry companies say they "actively engage" with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, which is situated within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.


R105m lignin expansion project launched by Sappi, JV partner


Dissolving wood pulp and paper products manufacturer, Sappi and Norwegian firm Borregaard will invest R105-million on expanding the production capacity of their joint venture (JV) lignin manufacturing operation LignoTech South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal by 20 000 t/y.

The expansion, which would increase output to 180 000 t/y, would be completed in 2017 and the additional volumes would be marketed to existing applications and geographical markets


International news
Processing technology wins award


Automaton and Electronics won the engineering innovation category at this year's Bay of Plenty ExportNZ Awards. The firm has revolutionised log processing by using the latest camera and laser technology and has increased yields by at least five per cent over other technologies, the judging panel said. The award was a strong endorsement of the Tauranga-based company's success in developing its export business after suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis. "The recession really made us lift our game because at the time our domestic market was shrinking," said director Brian Smith, who co-founded the business with Tony Cable in 1986.


Finland: timber trade was brisk in May


This year’s timber sales peaked in May, with industry procuring 3.5 cubic metres of roundwood from non-industrial, private forests. The stumpage prices of roundwood purchased from private forests were also on the rise. Industry procured more roundwood in May than in any previous month this year. The average monthly 2014 timber sales volumes were also exceeded by 23 percent. 3.1 million cubic metres of the timber was procured in standing sales while 0.4 million cubic metres was procured in delivery sales. Strong monthly variation is characteristic of timber trade. The price and volume data for timber trade are provided by the Natural Resources Institute Finland statistics.


Rattan revival and the recipe for a sustainable timber market


Natural rattan has made a comeback in design circles. Fast growing, easy to harvest, light and durable, it is in high demand amongst major European furniture manufacturers and retailers. Growing around other trees, rattan relies on healthy forests, so from a conservation perspective, its potential as a profitable crop can provide an incentive for better overall forest management, as well as income for forest-dependent communities.


Green stars for Australian timber


For the Australian forest and timber industry, producing products that can be used by builders of Green Star sustainably rated buildings makes good economic and environmental sense. A range of certifications may contribute to a building product being recognised by the Green Building Council (GBC) and so be eligible for inclusion in its star ratings system. The development of an Environment Product Declaration (EPD) is one such opportunity to demonstrate the environmental credentials of a product and be included in the certification system.


Canada, Japan at odds over BC timber in TPP trade talks: documents


One of Canada’s most protected industries, British Columbia timber, has been targeted by Japan in the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. Japan is pushing Canada to eliminate or modify the controls it imposes on BC log exports, a practice that is heavily restricted by the federal and provincial governments and which drives up their cost to foreign buyers.


Thai firms plan 120 MW of biomass projects


Thai wood furniture maker East Coast Furnitech PCL (BKK:ECF) and local partners plan to jointly bid for and develop biomass power projects at home with a maximum capacity of 120 MW.

East Coast Furnitech has signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Fortune Parts Industry PCL (BKK:FPI), WIT Industry Co Ltd (WIT), Triple P Advisory Co Ltd and a number of sawn timber groups. The latter will be supplying the needed feedstock for the plants.


Tribute to a great Wood Markets man


The following is a sad message received from International Wood Markets Group team mid-week - all of whom have been long-term participants in Innovatek and FIEA Wood Markets conferences that have been run over the years.

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we advise that our friend and colleague, Gerry van Leeuwen, passed away on 3 July 2015 at the age of 66.


Deal to allow RI timber to enter EU at risk


The negotiations between Indonesia and the European Union to exempt Indonesia’s timber products from a due diligence process at the European market has suffered a setback as the Environment and Forestry Ministry is now mired in a legal dispute. The ministry’s director general of sustainable forest products management, Ida Bagus Putera Parthama, said on Friday, 10 July 2015, that the recent legal proceedings at the Central Information Commission (KIP), in which the ministry was being sued by Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) for refusing to release what the ministry deems to be confidential documents, had caused concern among EU members.


Equipment update


  Production/General Manager Nelspruit
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. Guy Payn Sawmills (Pty) Ltd

2. Surejoy Industries (Pty) Ltd

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

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

This is a genuine advert from 1964 when WD40 was released!


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