New mill secures sufficient source of wood
The planned facility on the Big Island will export veneer
HILO » Tradewinds Forest Products LLC President Don Bryan says there will be enough timber to ensure that a proposed Big Island wood mill can operate at full capacity.
Cambium Global Timberland Ltd., an Australian investment fund, announced this week that it had acquired lease rights to 6,100 acres and intended to sell timber to Tradewinds.
Since early this decade, Tradewinds has also had a license to log non-native timber on the 12,000-acre Waiakea Timber Management Area just south of Hilo.
More timber had been needed to operate the mill on a continuing, sustainable basis, Bryan said yesterday.
The 6,100 acres is near Pahala in the Kau District, about 50 miles south of Hilo, Bryan said. Cambium had said only that the land was somewhere on the Big Island.
The acreage is comprised of two parts: 3,700 acres for timber, and 2,400 acres of native forest that will remain in conservation.
Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said the lease to Cambium included the conservation land because the two parts form a single tract that cannot be divided for lease purposes.
With Tradewinds' mill planned for Ookala, 30 miles north of Hilo, logs from Kau would have to be trucked about 80 miles. "That's not a very long haul" by mainland logging standards, Bryan said.
Large plantings of eucalyptus stand much closer to Ookala in the Hamakua District, but Bryan said he does not have agreements to receive timber from those areas.
The mill will slice eucalyptus logs into 1/8-inch sheets called veneer. Ultrasound devices will test every sheet for strength, Bryan said. Strong sheets will be glued together and re-sawed off-island to produce building material called laminated veneer lumber, he said.
Weaker sheets will be used to make construction-grade plywood, which even with weaker wood will be stronger than normal construction-grade plywood, he said.
The market for the veneer will be manufacturers on the West Coast and in Asia, he said. Critics have said that Brazil already produces huge amounts of timber products, but those go to the southern United States, Bryan said.
Construction could start before the end of the year and be completed 14 months later, he said.