South East Fibre Exports general manager Peter Mitchell says there are “signs of improvement” for the wood chip exporter following a dismal 2012/2013.
SEFE is making progress towards diversification, working with Eastern Iron to explore the feasibility of exporting magnetite iron ore from the Edrom Road mill site.
“We’re producing documents for our shareholders now, and a draft heads of agreement for ratification with Eastern Iron,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Eastern Iron put out their half yearly report and are about to release their definitive study (into exporting the magnetite from Eden).
“As much as anything it’s in the hands of our shareholders and Eastern’s shareholders now.”
Mr Mitchell confirmed 2013 was a difficult year for the mill.
“At the end of last year we almost reached rock bottom in terms of our trading conditions.
“Now there are a few signs of improvement.
“There may be some more interest from China and there’s a lot more international interest.
“I think we’ll do a little bit better than our budget in 2013/2014.
“Our job is to survive these tough years,” Mr Mitchell said.
“I’m a little bit more optimistic; the iron ore is pivotal though.”
Asked about the Tasmanian election outcome which saw the Greens suffer a 7.8 per cent swing against them, losing two of the previously held five seats, Mr Mitchell said the outcome was “inevitable".
“The Green/Labor coalition trashed the timber industry down there, with no reasonable outcome at all," he said.
“They locked up too much forest, there are still maverick protest groups and there is no peace deal.
“There was a promise of certification but that’s probably going to be difficult to deliver.”
SEFE is currently preparing to go to court in April over a lock-on by protestors on site on December 16, 2013.
“We would like to see the workplace safety laws imposed for once.
Every employer has got a responsibility to maintain safety in their workplace, yet trespassers can compromise that and are apparently not answerable – it’s all care and no responsibility.”