The Eden chip mill is buzzing with activity again, as repairs finish up on the main jetty wharf conveyor system, now back in action after five months.
The conveyor was rendered inoperable by June’s monster storm event, necessitating the chip mill to downsize operations and dispatch only smaller loads via the multi-purpose wharf.
On Monday, the first full scale wood-chip deployment was successfully achieved using the repaired conveyor system, with Allied Natural Wood Exports general manager Jarrod Wallis delighted with the early Christmas present it represents for all employees.
“Seeing that first ship successfully loaded and headed to Japan this morning was a great achievement,” Mr Wallis said on Monday. “We’ve had to do a lot of work over the past five months, and a lot of people have worked hard to get us where we are now.”
Mr Wallis said approximately 60 tradespeople were involved in the repair work of which 80 per cent hailed from Eden.
“A big thanks to everyone who worked on the conveyor system, especially Acora Reneco who designed and built it,” Mr Wallis said.
Mr Wallis also thanked Jamie Michelin Engineering, and Australasian Marine Constructions for repairing the jetty itself.
Getting the mill back in action meant job security for a large number of Eden people, which was great news in the approach to Christmas.
“Thirty-five people are directly employed in the mill as well as 80 additional employees in the bush – in harvest and haulage – and associated industries on top of that,” Mr Wallis said.
Mr Wallis said final works will continue until Christmas, repairing the ‘roadway’ or jetty deck that runs alongside the conveyor system.
“Most was washed away by the storm, and we’ve had to remove other sections to allow full repair of the roadway,” Mr Wallis said.
While the conveyor system was out of action, the chip mill continued to load up smaller bulk carriers by using its multipurpose wharf but was unable to service large wood-chip carriers such as its major Japanese client.
But now it’s back to business.
“We’re buoyant with how the industry is going, and the recent Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ report shows there’s strong demand for wood fibre products,” Mr Wallis said.
“Forestry is an industry for the future.”