The woodchip pile at Port Chalmers, most of which left this
week for China, with Port Otago's tug Rangi alongside.
Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The export of a seven-month-old stockpile of woodchips
from Port Chalmers may have been the country's first woodchip
shipment to China.
The vessel Esprit Lotus spent most of the weekend loading an
estimated 23,000 tonnes of woodchips at Port Chalmers before
departing on Monday morning for China.
The Esprit Lotus' load was credited as the 126th woodchip
export vessel to depart Port Chalmers since the trade began
35 years ago, according to ODT shipping columnist Doug
South Wood Ltd spokesman Graeme Manley was contacted
yesterday and described the global woodchip market as
"quiet", being in cyclical downturn at present.
Wood markets around the globe have weakened markedly.
City Forests' joint-venture softwood-chipping plant had its
operations temporarily suspended six months ago and,
separately, Dunedin's only sawmill, Otago Lumber Ltd, is
restructuring its operations after having problems marketing
Otago Lumber chairman Harold Hill said in a statement on
restructuring earlier in the week that while a question mark
remained over where its woodchips would be sold, "a number of
potentially promising options were being pursued".
Mr Manley hoped there would be more export opportunities to
China, where, as in Japan, the chips are processed for pulp
Because of a stockpile of woodchips in Japan, exports from
New Zealand have been held back in recent months. The pile at
Port Chalmers grew to 25,000 tonnes and a second stockpile of
about 6000 tonnes was started at Burnside.
Mr Manley had spoken to the Ministry for Primary Industries
and understood the export to China from Port Chalmers was a
first, and might have been a first for the country.
He said the Burnside stockpile would be taken to Port
Chalmers, where there was about 2000 tonnes left over, and a
"half load" of about 20,000-25,000 tonnes might be exported
to Japan in January. In the past, up to six vessels a year
have loaded chips at Port Chalmers.