The Nannup Timber Processing plant are set to shut down its sawmill operation which could see 30 employees lose their jobs, according to general manager Vince Corlett.
While no date has been confirmed, Mr Corlett said a combination of events contributed to the decision including the quality of resources, resource availability and market conditions.
Mr Corlett said they would prefer to have a fully functioning site but unfortunately they were not turning a profit from the sawmill.
“It is unfortunate – the workforce have been great - some have been there for a long time and excellent employees,” he said.
Warren Blackwood MP Terry Redman called on the state government to action over revelations Nannup Timber Proecessing Mill was shutting its operation.
Mr Redman said the state government needed to ensure it setup appropriate an response to the closure with up to 30 people likely to lose their jobs within the next fortnight.
“This comes as a massive blow to the Nannup community, which for many years has relied on employment opportunities created through the timber industry,” he said.
“The government needs to put an urgent strategy in place to deal with the fallout and make sure these employees and their families have support and outreach services they may require.”
Forestry Minister Dave Kelly said the decision to close the green mill operations at the Nannup Timber Processing sawmill was disappointing.
“My concern is with the local community and the impact that this decision will have on them,” he said.
“As soon as I was made aware of this closure, I reached out to directors of Nannup Timber Processing to see what assistance the state could offer to potentially reverse their decision.”
Mr Kelly said the Forest Products Commission would also meet with directors today to see what assistance it could provide.
“The Minister for Regional Development has also reached out to the Shire President to offer her assistance to the local community,” he said.
“Job alert security in the forestry industry remains my priority and I will continue to work with the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia to ensure that we have a strong and viable local timber industry."
Forestry spokesman and South West MP Colin Holt raised the issue in parliament yesterday and said a rapid and effective government response needed to be put in place.
Mr Holt said the new forestry minister had done nothing to show the South West timber industry any leadership or support.
“He needs to visit the affected mill and meet with workers and the community to help them transition through this difficulty,” he said.
South West MP Adele Farina said the decision to close the green mill operations was disappointing and she was concerned about the impact this decision would have on the community.
“As soon as I became aware of the closure, I contacted the Shire of Nannup president to offer my support to council and the community,” she said.
“I have undertaken to meet with council and workers at a time the shire president determines it is appropriate.”
Ms Farina said she alerted the relevant ministers and the Premier’s office, calling on government to do all it could to support the community through this and asked the Minister for Forestry to review the issues raised as factors in the decision to close the mill, in particular log quality and costs, including transport costs.
”Job security in the forestry industry remains my priority and I will continue to work with the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia to ensure that we have a strong and viable local timber industry,” she said.
South West MP Diane Evers said a partial closure of the mill was similar partial closure by the mill in 2013 when 20 workers were laid off.
“I am sad to hear this news from the point of view of the mill workers and their families,” she said.
Ms Evers the closure confirmed evidence seen elsewhere that the recovery rate for sawn timber out of the trees logged from our native forests was declining.
“In other words, our slow-growing native forests are not providing the large, good quality logs that they once did,” she said.
“In contrast, plantation timber, already an important industry in the South West, grew faster and offered great economic potential and new business opportunities for the region.”
The WA Forest Alliance convener Jess Beckerling said the the most recent indication that the native forest timber industry was unsustainable and required the implementation of a transition plan to a more sustainable base.
Ms Beckerling said the native forest timber industry had operated at a financial loss for the past three years and had been in steady decline since 2007.
She said over the past four financial years, the Forest Product Commission’s native forest timber division produced approximately two million tonnes of logs for an audited pre-tax loss of $47 million.
“Logging has been too fast and furious for the forests to keep up and the timber quality has reduced substantially,” she said.
“The industry is naturally moving to plantations. Hanging on to a failing native forest sector is not serving anyone, least of all the forests.”
Ms Beckerling said the Labor government promised to protect high conservation value forests and complete the transition of the timber industry to sustainbly managed plantations and farm forestry.
“This is the logical next step for communities as well as for the forests and the state,” she said.
“Forests For Life sets out a clear and achievable transition strategy that will employ up to three times as many people as the native forest timber industry currently does, and provide support to forest based industries such as beekeeping and tourism.
“Throwing more money at propping up native forest logging would be a mistake.
“Any support government offers should be to support workers in finding reliable work in a sustainable industry, not to throw further tax-payer dollars at empty promises and the delay of the inevitable.”