Government backs $2m bioproducts study at Kinleith Mill

Oji Fiber Solutions has partnered with the government to explore the production of bioproducts at Kinleith Mill in Tokoroa.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Oji Fiber Solutions has partnered with the government to explore the production of bioproducts at Kinleith Mill in Tokoroa.

The owners of Kinleith Mill have partnered with government to undertake a joint feasibility study into the production of sustainable wood products, hydrogen and biofuels.

Forests Minister Stuart Nash said the $2 million study would explore sustainable timber processing at the site owned by Oji Fiber Solutions in Tokoroa.

“In order to build a low-emission, high-wage economy, we must explore innovative and sustainable solutions across all sectors,” Nash said in a statement Thursday.

“In the wood processing sector, there is an opportunity to integrate bio-manufacturing, i.e. the production of high-value bio-energy and bio-chemicals through the development of an advanced bio-economy manufacturing cluster. »

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He said the study was the perfect opportunity to think differently about the way wood is processed in New Zealand, harness the bioeconomy and harness valuable wood fiber by-products.

“Oji Fiber Solutions is a global leader in pulp, paper and packaging products, and the Kinleith mill employs over 500 people in South Waikato,” said Nash.

“Throughout this study, we will investigate how we can make high-value, sustainable bioproducts from wood.

“This could create highly skilled and well-paid jobs, as well as unlock regional economic opportunities and ultimately create a productive, sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy.”

This partnership is one of the first concrete actions resulting from the plan for the transformation of forestry and wood processing sectors launched in August.

A key objective of the plan is how to add value to the forestry sector by processing logs domestically rather than sending them overseas for other countries to extract value from.

“The forestry and wood processing sector has significant growth potential, and innovative ways of thinking like this will help the sector decarbonize, support local job creation and boost the economy. flyer,” Nash said.

The study would focus on opportunities to develop the Kinleith plant to commercially produce wood products such as biofuels – including sustainable aviation fuel, green hydrogen, bioplastics and fuel pellets.

It would also look at the costs of an upgrade to Kinleith Mill’s energy boilers, known as ‘energy island’, as well as third-party investment opportunities in the bioeconomy.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed in early 2023, after which decisions on next steps would be made.

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