The installation of a debarker machine at Port Taranaki ensures the company’s export log operations are more efficient and ready to meet future changes to environmental standards, says Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper.
In a partnership between Port Taranaki and China Forestry Group New Zealand, a log debarker has started operation at Port Taranaki and will strip between 1200 and 1600 JAS (tonnes) of logs a day.
Port Taranaki is the first port in the lower North Island to commission an on-site debarker, and its operation means full log vessels – both below deck and above deck – can be loaded at Port Taranaki and leave directly for international markets in Asia.
The first above-deck consignment of 8000 JAS was loaded on the vessel Mount Adams on Tuesday, with another 6000 JAS loaded in the ship’s hold.
China Forestry Group New Zealand, which owns the debarker, has leased an area of Port Taranaki’s former container transfer site, in conjunction with McCarthy Transport, for the operation.
Port Taranaki has invested in electricity connections, on-site storm water drainage, sealing of the site, and logistic capabilities to allow for the flow of logs to and from storage areas at the port.
China Forestry has contracted McCarthy Transport to operate the debarker, which can process logs up to 12m long and is the first fully mobile, high-speed debarker in New Zealand. ISO Limited, which provides log marshalling and ship loading services for China Forestry, transports logs to and from the debarker.
As part of import requirements in many markets, logs leaving New Zealand must be treated to control insect pests. This is most often done through fumigation, with the use of methyl bromide gas. An alternative is to debark the logs, which removes the insects.
Unlike at other ports, logs are not fumigated at Port Taranaki. Therefore, prior to the debarker installation, logs were only able to be loaded into the hold of visiting vessels. The below deck logs were then fumigated while the vessel was at sea, and the vessel visited another port to load treated or debarked logs above deck.
Following increased environmental awareness regarding the impact of methyl bromide, it is expected the recapture or destruction of methyl bromide emissions will be made compulsory in the coming months.
“Having a debarker here means Port Taranaki is now able to load a complete log vessel – both in the hold and above deck,” Mr Roper said.
“This puts Port Taranaki in a great position ahead of environmental regulatory changes, particularly as we are the only port in the lower North Island to have a debarker on-site.
“It is also more efficient for exporters as they can contemplate fewer multi-port visits, saving time and fuel, which is better for the environment,” he said.
Port Taranaki head of commercial Ross Dingle said it was expected up to three log vessels a month would visit the port to load above-deck logs.
“The debarker operation has the potential to increase the volume of logs coming to Port Taranaki, gives us the opportunity to get more shipping through the port, which is our core business, and makes trade easier for our customers,” Mr Dingle said.
“We are already seeing logs coming from deeper in our hinterland – north from Te Kuiti and towards Rotorua, and south of Taranaki, into Whanganui and further afield. They are logs that would have otherwise gone to another port.”
Mr Dingle said the strong partnership with China Forestry Group New Zealand had made the project a success.
“China Forestry approached us about having a debarker here and we were more than happy to work with them to get it operational quickly and effectively. It’s been a major investment by China Forestry so we thank them for asking us to work with them on this project.”
China Forestry southern North Island regional manager Scott Gordon said the debarker project was a great example of regional collaboration.
“Several Taranaki and Whanganui companies across fabrication, electrical engineering, and transport etc have been involved, so we’re proud it’s been a local project,” he said.
“This is a fantastic asset to have in this part of the country and will be of real long-term benefit for forestry companies and exporters. Port Taranaki have been outstanding to work with, which helps make trade easy for their customers.”