NZ timber products manufacturer XLam has announced Albury-Wodonga on the NSW and Victorian border as the location for its new cross laminated timber production facility.
The $25 million facility is expected to create up to 54 jobs and produce about 60,000 cubic metres of CLT a year – enough to supply 50 or more projects with a similar scale to Lendlease’s Forte Building.
Hyne Timber has invested in the venture, and softwood feedstock from Hyne’s Tumbarumba operation is to be used for the manufacture of a range of CLT products including master panels through to full bespoke prefabricated building elements, XLam Australia businesses development manager Robert De Brincat said.
Mr De Brincat, who was commercial development manager for Tillings Timber prior to being appointed to the new XLam operation in June last year, said the market for CLT was growing.
The construction of the plant, which is due to commence production in mid-2017, will act to give the market more confidence, he said. It is believed to be the only production plant for CLT currently underway in Australia.
Prior to it coming online, Australian projects will continue to be supplied from the NZ operation.
Within the next month, CLT for two major projects will be hitting our shores, he said.
They include a three-tower affordable housing project in MacArthur Gardens in Sydney, and the five-storey Verde development in Adelaide, a joint venture between developer FA Mamac and builder Morgan and Hansen .
The manufacturing operation will have a complement of technical staff, Mr De Brincat said. The company also plans to open a sales and technical office in Melbourne in the near future.
He said if mass timber construction hits the demand that is forecast, it could also be a driver for increased investment in plantations to supply it.
“People should be looking at that now,” he said.
Mr De Brincat said the second and third stages of the “CLT revolution” had arrived.
The new plant would be one of the most technically advanced CLT plants in the world, he said, and would be able to draw on research and development the NZ operation has been carrying out for the past five years.
Xlam NZ chief executive Gary Caulfield said the investment would be a game-changer in the Australian market.
“For the first time Australian builders will be able to choose a CLT product that is designed and made in Australia from Australian timber, meeting a significant demand in the current market,” Mr Caulfield said.
“It’ll also mean the jobs and proceeds stay in Australia, rather than going back to Europe.
“By building this facility in Albury Wodonga we’ll be in easy reach of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra via the road and rail networks, and from there Australia wide.
“We’re eager to work with the Albury Wodonga communities to build an incredible facility, and become an asset to the region.”