Woodchip backlog just a “blip”

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Albany port
Camera IconAlbany port Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The head of WA’s timber industry association has moved to quell fears surrounding Chinese demand for Albany woodchips, describing an ongoing export backlog at Albany’s Port as a “blip”.

Forest Industries Federation of WA president Ian Telfer said some customers had deferred planned shipments from Albany, leading to a stockpile of woodchips at the port and a “slowing of production”.

According to Mr Telfer, an influx of South American pulp stock into the Chinese market has placed strain on local mills, particularly at the existing woodchip market price.

Escalating trade tensions between the US and China, specifically tariffs on Chinese paper products, were also having an adverse affect on exports from Albany, he said.

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“US-China trade discussions impact on Chinese exports,” Mr Telfer said.

“As exports are impacted so are packaging needs, further putting pressure on prices and consumption of wood fibre in the short term.

“Exporters and contractors are working to manage these impacts while retaining the existing capacity and capability to ensure we can respond when the market demand increases, which we confidently expect it will.”

Mr Telfer said the quality of accredited Australian woodchips meant demand would return for locally produced wood fibre. He said there was an increasing demand for sustainable fibre-based products such as wood fibre.

“These type of events have occurred before, are not unusual and reflect the short-term trading environment including factors beyond our control,” he said. “The underlying wood fibre demand remains strong and we need to grow more trees, not slow down.

“So, we will manage our way through the blip, developing our capacity to ensure WA remains a key supply source for quality wood fibre.”

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