Media reports February 2011

26 February 2011 Dr Warwick Raverty’s Letter to the Examiner Editor

Dear Sir,
Re “Pulp mill works” – letters to the Editor, 26th February 2011

In his letter under the heading ‘Pulp mill works’, Mr Millar of Hillwood has shot the pro-mill case well and truly in the foot. Yes Graz has a pulp mill at Gratkorn, 10 km from the centre of town. A little additional research on the web would have informed Mr Millar that the SAPPI Gratkorn Mill is NOT A KRAFT MILL. Gratkorn Mill is a magnefite acid sulfite mill that uses a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT set of chemicals, lacking any smelly sulfides, to produce bleached sulfite pulp at 23% of the scale of Gunns’ proposal. The Gratkorn Mill thus produces NO FOUL GAS EMISSIONS and, significantly, is also able to use TOTALLY CHLORINE FREE bleaching to whiten its sulfite pulp. Being operated by SAPPI, one of the most experienced and environmentally conscious, FSC certified pulp and paper companies in the world, the effluent treatment system is able to treat the dioxin-free and AOX-free mill effluent to a standard where it can be discharged into the Mur River under EPA licence. Mr Millar did not have to travel to Austria to find a magnefite mill – there is a smaller one at Tantanoola, near Millicent, South Australia, operated by Kimberley Clark that The Company put up for sale in the last month. Like Graz, Millicent has no odour problems. Unfortunately bleached magnefite pulp is not as strong as kraft pulp and SAPPI has to import around 600,000 tonnes per year of bleached kraft pulp into order to supplement the 255,000 tonnes of weaker sulfite pulp made at Gratkorn to make 920,000 tonnes of strong coated printing papers each year.

Significantly for Tamar residents, the city of GRAZ IS ALSO HEADQUARTERS FOR ANDRITZ AG, the company that Gunns proposes to use for supply of its major items of kraft pulping equipment. With Andritz ‘next door’ in Graz so to speak, one might expect SAPPI to have adopted Andritz’s kraft pulping technology for Gratkorn as part of the many upgrades it has made to the mill in recent years. SAPPI HAVE NOT CHANGED TO KRAFT BECAUSE IT WOULD RUIN THE TOURISM AND HERITAGE VALUES ON WHICH GRAZ RELIES because of the fugitive foul gas odour and it would also make the effluent impossible to treat to a standard where the Austrian EPA would allow discharge into the Mur River. IN FACT NONE OF SAPPI’s chemical pulp mills in Germany and Austria USE KRAFT PULPING AND ECF BLEACHING - they ALL use the acid sulfite process and TCF bleaching. It is high time that the Tasmanian Government admits its mistakes and reverts to ethical standards. There have been significant changes in pulping technology since 2007 and the PMAA must be revoked and Gunns’ proposal re-submitted to independent, detailed expert scrutiny rather than to a compromised consultant like Sweco Pic, that relies on Andritz for a significant part of its income.

Dr Warwick Raverty, Clayton South, VIC Tasmanian Times


26 February 2011 Pulp mill funding prompts concern
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has been criticised by Tasmanian Liberal and Greens Senators for refusing to rule out further financial assistance for the Gunns pulp mill in the north.

The timber company is hoping to get full Commonwealth approval for its $2.5 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill next month.

The Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, has condemned Ms Gillard's position, saying his party would oppose any more taxpayers' money going to the mill.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, was also critical.

"In general terms, we would like to see private enterprise fund itself," he said.

"But at the end of the day, let's see what the proposals are, the reasons for it, the rationale." Yahoo Finance


25 February 2011 No taxpayers money for Gunns - Greens
The Australian Greens will not accept taxpayers' money being diverted into Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal, Greens Leader Bob Brown said in Hobart today.

"More than $1 billion of public funds has gone to Tasmanian loggers in the past 25 years and yet thousands of jobs have been jettisoned by the same companies."

"If established, a pulp mill will create just 300 jobs at a time that the Tasmanian Treasurer is flagging 1000 jobs being shed due to budget stringencies."

"It's not good policy for cash strapped governments to invest into a jobs-sparse pulp mill and we will not support any move by the federal government to do so," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown repeated the Greens' long-held view that Gunns should gain a social licence for any pulp mill proposal which would require the mill to be re-sited outside the Tamar Valley.

Senator Brown is due to meet Gunns soon to discuss the pulp mill. Greens


25 February 2011  Commonwealth financial assistance not ruled out
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has not ruled out further Commonwealth financial assistance for the proposed Tamar Valley Pulp Mill.

Gunns is hoping to get full Commonwealth approval for the pulp mill early next month, it's also believed to be negotiating with potential joint venture partners.

Under questioning from the Tasmanian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie in Federal Parliament yesterday Ms Gillard did not rule out further financial help for the company.

"On the question of federal financial assistance, I'm advised that no application has been made for funding under the export finance and insurance corporation," Ms Gillard said.

Bob McMahon from the anti-pulp mill group, TAP into a Better Tasmania, said the community would take to the streets to protest against any further government help for the pulp mill.

"Well they will do all sorts of thing I guess. There will be blockades, there will be protests all around shall we say it will probably be a little Egypt," Mr McMahon said. Yahoo Finance


21 February 2011 Giddings 'copying Lennon mill line'
Despite the Liberal Party's support of the proposed Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill, Opposition Leader Will Hodgman was yesterday critical of comments made by Premier Lara Giddings in support of the project.

On Saturday Ms Giddings said the state desperately needed the project.

Yesterday Mr Hodgman reaffirmed his party's support for the mill but said former premier Paul Lennon was pulling the strings in relation to Ms Giddings's position.

"Ms Giddings's statement that the pulp mill will save the Tasmanian economy is straight out of Paul Lennon's playbook," he said.

But Labor dismissed Mr Hodgman's comments. Examiner


17 February 2011 Abbott backs pulp mill
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott waded into the controversial issues of the Tamar River and Gunns' pulp mill at a community forum attended by more 200 people at Launceston College last night.

Although the room was full of smiles for Mr Abbott at the beginning of the forum, they soon turned serious as concerned residents flooded the Opposition Leader with questions.

Mr Abbott also spoke of the proposed Bell Bay pulp mill and said the sooner it went ahead the better.

"I think it is a serious failure of policy that we are still talking about this pulp mill, not just for the last seven years but for the last quarter of a century and nothing has been done," he said.

"It is a business proposition that stacks up and we should not stand in the way of it ... I think the sooner it can go ahead the better." Examiner


17 February 2011 Greens agree to talk pulp with Gunns
The Australian Greens have accepted an offer from Tasmanian timber company Gunns for a briefing on its proposed northern Tasmanian pulp mill.

Greens Leader, Bob Brown, said he received an invitation from Gunns chief Greg L'Estrange about a fortnight ago to discuss the $2 billion project.

Senator Brown said he stood by previous demands regarding the pulp mill.

"That the pulp mill should be sighted outside the Tamar Valley. It should be truly world class which means environmentally enhanced," Senator Brown said.

"It should go through proper process not like the current Tamar proposal which of course was a very improper process."

No firm date has been set for the meeting. ABC


16 February 2011 Government must come clean on support for Gunns

Premier Lara Giddings must come clean on what financial support her Government has promised timber group Gunns, a Tasmanian analyst said today.

"With Gunns’ financial position deteriorating and at risk of breaching banking covenants, this State cannot afford to jeopardise its own financial position by propping up another struggling private enterprise,’’ Tom Ellison said.

"Gunns’ headline loss of $5 million understates their true financial position,’’ Mr Ellison said.

"Incredibly, Gunns has inflated their earnings figures by revaluing the Bell Bay sawmill upwards by $19 million, despite the mill being sold as a result of a transparent tender process, and even though Gunns did not own the asset at the end of the accounting period.’’

Gunns has also confirmed compliance with debt covenants will rely on the success of ongoing asset sales.

"With Tasmania already facing serious Budget deficits and public service cuts, it’s hard to comprehend how a Government could even contemplate providing financial support for Gunns,’’ Mr Ellison added.

"Gunns’ pulp mill is without final approvals, a joint venture partner or a financier, yet the Premier continues to support the project.’’

"The taxpayer deserves to know whether she has committed any further funds to Gunns.’’

Tom Ellison is General Manager, Wills Financial Group Pty Ltd. Wills Financial Group is an independent, Tasmanian-based advisory and research firm specialising in ethical investment strategies. Tasmanian Times


16 February 2011 Critics say Gunns is hiding real loss
Gunns' critics yesterday attacked the Tasmanian company's $4.6 million half- yearly loss as number juggling to hide its real financial woes.

Tasmanian Greens forestry spokesman Kim Booth said that Gunns' half-yearly report was "smoke and mirrors" to hide a real net loss of about $23.4 million.

He said that purchase figures of the former Forest Enterprise Australia Bell Bay mill had been juggled to inflate the company's earnings.

But Mr L'Estrange said that Gunns had recorded a gain on the purchase of the mill of $18.8 million.

One of the biggest financial challenges for Gunns will come at this time next year when its senior debt facilities will be due for renewal. Examiner


16 February 2011 Gunns faces critical few months
Gunns boss Greg L'Estrange has the onerous task in coming months of selling plantation assets to repay debt, while locking in a joint venture partner for the Bell Bay pulp mill.

Mr L'Estrange said yesterday the planned $2.3 billion pulp mill remained the single most accretive project for Gunns, The Australian Financial Review reports.

The only remaining government approval needed is for the hydrodynamic modelling. Environment Minister Tony Burke will hand down his decision by March 3.

After spending $5 million over two years modelling the project, Mr L'Estrange said he was confident Gunns would get the final tick needed to begin construction at the mill site, which has been sitting idle for years.

Gunns must begin "material construction" on the site by August 31, when its four-year permit expires. Farm Online


16 February 2011 Gunns lines up assets for chopping block to reduce debt
Gunns is pushing ahead with sale plans for some of its timber assets as pressure rises to drive down debt and keep alive hopes of building the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

The company's $826 million Tasmanian plantations are on the block, either as part of a mill joint venture or to sell equity down to institutional investors.

Investors were also told yesterday a sale of Gunns' $254 million Green Triangle pine plantation estate could be settled by June 30, and the company was reviewing options for realising capital invested in MIS-related assets.

The main sales would follow the disposal of Gunns' hardware, wine, walnut and construction businesses in a restructure focusing on its core timber business, as the high dollar continues to hit woodchip revenues.

''I would say that the financiers of Gunns are starting to exert a bit more control over the sale of these assets,'' the Shadforths analyst Matthew Torenius said.

Debt remained a preoccupation, with the company saying the timing and value of asset sales was critical to meeting covenants before renewal of its $370 million senior debt facility next January.

A note to the half-year results by the reviewer KPMG drew attention to ''material uncertainty'' regarding debt financing. ''That's the first time I recall seeing such a note for Gunns,'' Mr Torenius said.

A 48-hour trading halt lifted yesterday was to put in place temporary funding as a result of an unexpected delay in finalising a financing facility.

Gunns reported a net loss after tax of $4.6 million for the half-year to December 31, compared with a $410,000 profit for the previous first half. It said the EBIT was up $12.7 million on the last comparable period, to $20.2 million, in line with company guidance.

After six years on the drawing board, the $2.2 billion pulp mill project remains the main objective of the company's strategic review.

Described as ''ready'' since at least October 2009, the project is expected to obtain its final federal environmental sign-off, on Bass Strait outfall water quality, next month.

However, with $219 million already spent on capital works for the bleached kraft mill, Gunns was able to say only that due diligence was continuing with two potential investors.

The Finnish firm UPM, reported to be interested, told Business Day yesterday it had studied the project. ''However, UPM is not committed to any investment in Tasmania nor engaged in negotiations with Gunns,'' a spokesman said.

Gunns' managing director, Greg L'Estrange, said a forests peace deal between industry and environmentalists in Tasmania was essential to an investment in the mill.

Shares closed 1¢ lower at 51¢ Brisbane Times   


16 February 2011 Gunns' mill cut down by forest negotiations
Timber giant Gunns has blamed delayed negotiations over the Tasmanian forestry agreement for the failure to secure funding for its $2.3 billion pulp mill project.

The troubled company also revealed it has been forced to take out temporary finance to avoid a cashflow crisis -- and its ability to meet the repayment may require further asset sales.

In a briefing to the ASX yesterday, Gunns said securing equity for the plantation-based mill had been "delayed by the slower than anticipated progress of the Tasmanian forests agreement".

Managing director Greg L'Estrange told The Australian the successful phase-in of a moratorium on logging high conservation value forests -- due by March 15 as part of the process -- was a "critical date" for the mill.

Announcing a net half-year loss after tax of $4.6 million yesterday, Gunns revealed it had been forced to organise unexpected temporary finance to avoid a cashflow crisis.

It also conceded that its ability to renew overall debt arrangements rested on further successful assets sales.

Mr L'Estrange said a trading halt on Friday had been requested after "an unexpected delay in finalising a financing facility".

"Revised cashflow modelling indicated the need to put in place temporary funding facilities as a result of the delay," he said.

"These temporary facilities are now in place with repayment to be made from the proceeds of asset sales, or the completion of the planned financing."

Mr L'Estrange said this was no cause for concern and that financiers were "more supportive than they were 12 months ago".

He said Gunns' debt repayments would drop after January next year, when the bulk of loan arrangements were renewed, because of asset sales.

Profit and cashflow forecasts suggested Gunns could meet all its repayments until then. "However, it must be emphasised that the timing and value of the remaining asset sales are critical to achieving this outcome," he said.

Shadforth analyst Matthew Torenius said it appeared lenders wanted greater security over assets. "It smacks to me of a bank saying 'we'll roll it over, but we want first dibs on any further asset sales'," Mr Torenius said.

A Gunns briefing said the company -- which has already sold its wine, walnut and retail businesses -- was moving to sell up to $1.53bn in land and forest assets, and continue a progressive exit from its construction business.

Indicative bids were imminent on the sale of Gunns' green triangle pine plantation assets, valued at $254m, while the company was considering options for its $826m Tasmanian plantation estate. These included selling into a joint venture company for the proposed pulp mill, or selling down equity to institutional investors.

Gunns is trying to persuade potential joint venture partners and financiers that it has obtained a "social licence" for the Tamar Valley mill, having decided to exit native forests in favour of plantations. But Mr L'Estrange said a successful deal to end 30 years of dispute over forestry in Tasmania was vital for the future of the entire sector.

He said the other critical hurdle to clinching a deal with potential joint venture partners was final federal approval for the mill to operate. This decision is expected to be announced on March 4. Without such approval, Mr L'Estrange said neither of the two potential partners undergoing due diligence were likely to sign up to a joint venture.

"Although we can build the facility, people would be reluctant and financiers would be reluctant without that critical piece of information," he said. Australian


12 February 2011 Cundall returns to Parliament House ABC personality Peter Cundall has returned to the steps of Parliament House in Hobart, despite yesterday's court verdict over protesting on the same spot. The 83-year-old was found guilty of disobeying the direction of a police officer and was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond without conviction. He and 56 other protesters were arrested after refusing to move from the steps of Parliament House during an anti-pulp mill rally in November 2009. Cundall, who was this morning handing out anti-pulp mill pamphlets, says he has had plenty of people offering him support. "It seems to me that almost everybody that's come up to me is fully supportive of what I'm doing and what I'm standing up for," he said. "They said I broke the law but basically I didn't feel like I did, that's fine let's move on, but above all never stop fighting." ABC


12 February 2011 Cundall guilty in mill case. ABC personality Peter Cundall has vowed to continue his fight against the planned Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill, despite being found guilty of a charge related to a protest at Parliament House in November 2009. Mr Cundall, 83, of Rosevears, and co- accused Molly Taylor, 57, of Hobart, were yesterday found guilty of failing to comply with the direction of a police officer but convictions were not recorded. They were also ordered to pay $47.60 each in court costs. The pair were among 57 protesters arrested outside Parliament House and have argued police were wrong to make the arrests. The case against Cundall and Taylor was a test case for the other protesters. Outside the court, Cundall said he and Taylor had been found guilty of standing up for the truth and justice. "The protest and the battle against the pulp mill will never stop and we'll never give in," he said. "As far as I and the others are concerned, we'll do everything we can, as we've always done, not to break the law." Magistrate Chris Webster said the group of protesters did not seek permission or make a booking in accordance with the usual protocol to hold such a demonstration and that the demonstrators located themselves immediately outside the entry to the building. "Their presence in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to Parliament House could have deterred persons from entering Parliament House," he said. Examiner


10 February 2011  Timber giant Gunns will sell all of its Tasmanian native forest operations if there is no forest "peace deal" agreed between the logging industry and conservationists.

Managing director Greg L'Estrange told The Australian that, contrary to media reports, Gunns would not continue native forest operations if negotiations to restructure the industry failed.

Instead, he said Gunns would sell its entire native forest operations -- harvesting, woodchipping and sawmilling -- and focus on plantations and the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.

This would mean that old growth and high conservation value forest logging would continue -- but by others, not by Gunns.

"We've made a strategic direction about involvement in the native forest industry in Tasmania: we believe the industry needs to restructure and come up with a better formula without the conflict," Mr L'Estrange said.

"We're hopeful of getting an outcome from that process that would see ... Gunns ... exiting (native forests) through that process.

"But if that isn't achieved ... they are businesses that without a forest agreement would probably continue to operate but they won't be under Gunns' ownership."

Under the interim "principles" agreement between the industry and environmental NGOs, harvesting of natural forests would be phased out in favour of an industry based on plantations.

If a lasting agreement can be reached, companies including Gunns would be compensated for abandoning some logging rights and be assisted to retool operations towards plantation timber.

Gunns, however, is already closing some mills regardless of the outcome of the talks, which are being brokered by the former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty.

Since institutional shareholders last year forced the departure of former chairman John Gay, the company -- long at war with conservationists -- has signalled a shift out of native forests.

Yesterday, The Australian revealed that Finland-based pulp and paper company UPM had been considering becoming a joint venture partner with Gunns to develop the $2.3 billion Tamar mill.

Mr L'Estrange would not rule out asking the state or federal government to effectively act as guarantor to underwrite the project, if this was needed to clinch project finance and a joint venture.

"We are not ruling anything in or out as we work through this process to bring this project to fruition," he said.

Local anti-mill group, Tasmanians Against a Pulp Mill, yesterday predicted no government would be willing to take on that level of risk, although the state government had not ruled it out.

A joint venture deal is unlikely to be finalised before a vital federal government decision on final approvals for the mill to operate, due on March 4.

These relate to the mill's planned release of 64,000 tonnes of effluent daily into Bass Strait. Detailed modelling provided by Gunns is being assessed by an independent expert group.

To retire debt and assist with pulp mill financing, Gunns has sold off assets unrelated to its core forest products business, including hardware and wine interests, and closed some timber mills in northern Tasmania and Western Australia.

The company earlier this week advised the stock exchange that Deutsche Bank had become a substantial shareholder.

Gunns is expected to announce mid-year financial results tomorrow.

At the company's annual general meeting in late November, it advised that underlying earnings before interest and tax were expected to be $40-50 million. The Australian


9 February 2011 Tasmanian timber company Gunns says it is yet to decide on a start date for its controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill.

A newspaper report has the company's chief executive Greg L'Estrange saying work on the $2.5 billion pulp mill will start mid next month.

He says the company is still seeking the funds to build the mill and is in talks with two possible joint venture partners.

Mr L'Estrange says there is no timeframe for a start to construction.

"Certainly we'd like to start the project as soon as possible, but, again, it's the overall project financing does take time," he said.

"Yes there is a critical decision date in March around the hydro-dynamic modelling which is a requirement for the operation of the mill not necessarily for the construction of it so that is certainly going to clarify the environment for the facility over the longer term."

The Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, is expected to announce next month whether the proposed pulp mill will be given full Commonwealth approval under national environmental laws. Yahoo finance


9 February 2011 Greg L'Estrange has earmarked mid-March as the likely start date for the company's Tamar Valley pulp mill.

Mr L'Estrange told the Mercury yesterday the $2.5 billion project was "closer than it had ever been" to a financial green light and construction start.

March is the deadline for the Federal Government to give an unconditional environmental approval to the pulp mill's right to operate.

The Gunns chief executive confirmed this was why a series of letters had been sent to pulp mill opponents and forestry organisations in the past fortnight, offering detailed new briefings about the controversial project.

The letter, written by Mr L'Estrange and sent to organisations such as TAP into a Better Tasmania (TAP) and Pulp the Mill Inc, said Gunns was seeking a "cuddly" social licence to operate.

Mr L'Estrange said the main design changes were that the pulp mill would use 40 per cent less chlorine dioxide in the pulp-bleaching process than previously proposed and only wood grown in plantations.

He said there were no plans to refine or tertiary-treat the 64 megalitres of effluent to be expelled daily into Bass Strait, with cheaper secondary treatment still the company's preferred option.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke will announce next month if the proposed pulp mill will be given full Commonwealth approval under national environmental laws.

Bank and joint venture finance from an international partner is understood to be dependent on the pulp mill's approval by the Gillard Government being declared unconditional.

Gunns was required to supply more detailed hydrological studies to an independent team of experts, proving its pulp mill effluent pipe into Bass Strait would not harm Commonwealth waters or endangered marine species.

Mr L'Estrange also denied the company had asked the State Government to underwrite the financial risk of the mill.

He said the issue of underwriting had never been raised between the State Government and the company, either formally or informally. Mercury


8 February 2011,  Gunns seeks peace and finance
The Tasmanian timber company Gunns sent out a message today saying it wants to forge peace with opponents of its pulp mill by forging what it describes as a social licence for the mill.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Gunns' plans to build a pulp mill in Tasmania's Tamar Valley has been dividing the state for the past six years. The controversial project is still generating passionate debate for and against the mill.

Gunns has said the mill is ready to go several times - but it still lacks finance. Investors are demanding a so-called social licence from the community and as Gunns struggles to get the $2.5 billion it's going to take too get the mill built, it's turning to old enemies and friends.

Gunns is trying a direct approach. The managing director, Greg L'Estrange, has written a letter to hundreds of pro and anti-pulp mill people and organisations.

GREG L'ESTRANGE: We just think having some communication with the community so they understand the project a little more than they do would be beneficial.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But the olive branch has been rejected by the key community group in the Tamar Valley.

BOB MCMAHON: They've realised belatedly, and this is the advice they've been given by their public relations firm that they've hired, they've realised belatedly that instead of sticking it up the community they really actually need the community to sign off on it.

FELICITY OGILVIE: That's Bob McMahon. He heads the group Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill.

BOB MCMAHON: For six years they've done nothing but either ignore us or vilify us and by us I mean the community at large. You see, this is something that Gunns wishes to have, it's not for our benefit, it's for their benefit, that is, they wish to in a last desperate throw of the dice convince some mythical or fantastical potential investor out there that they have as the result of community engagement, a social license to build their pulp mill.

We don't plan to aid and abet them in that.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Greg L'Estrange says he's simply making an offer.

GREG L'ESTRANGE: If they choose not to take that invitation, that's something that is for them to decide.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The group Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill says the company is simply trying to use them to get a social licence and finance to build the mill.

GREG L'ESTRANGE: Well they are one of quite a number of groups, we offered this invitation to a whole range of people. So we thought it the appropriate thing to do. So again, it's up to them to decide whether they want to engage in this dialogue or not.

Gunns makes it clear in the letter that it is looking for a social license to build the mill. Is that group, TAP, right - are you trying to use them to get finance for the mill?

GREG L'ESTRANGE: We're trying to engage the broader community in this and TAP are part of that, they're not the whole of the community. They are part of the community and I think going across the whole of the project and providing the community with an update and an understanding of exactly what the project is and what it isn't, would be beneficial for all parties.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But why have that community engagement now, why didn't Gunns go out to the community six years ago when the project was first mooted?

GREG L'ESTRANGE: I can't answer that, I wasn't with the organisation at that time. All I know is that a proper engagement and working on the issues and understanding is the right way to operate a business in a modern society.

It's part of how you should do business and that's the process that we are engaged in at the moment.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Isn't it the case that six years ago, getting community support for the project wasn't necessary for finance, but it is today?

GREG L'ESTRANGE: I don't think it's the only issue. You know, I believe that working together with all the groups, whether they're for or against is, beneficial and the right way to operate this type of business or any modern business today.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Mr L'Estrange says Gunns is getting close to securing a joint venture partner.

One of the last hurdles is getting approval for the effluent that will be pumped from the mill into Bass Strait.

The Federal Environment Minister is expected to make a decision about the effluent next month.ABC


2 February 2011 Gunns shareholders returned to the roller-coaster yesterday when the timber giant's price dived 19 per cent in 90 minutes before recovering some ground. The slump, a reminder of the company's fading fortunes of early 2010, was on low volumes and left analysts on watch. Recent announcements of a West Australian sawmill closure and the finalisation of a $45 million softwood mill purchase were widely expected, turning some speculation to Gunns' key $2.2 billion pulp mill project. 'Conditions remain exceptionally difficult for Gunns,' said a Shadforths Limited adviser, Matthew Torenius. 'Given the experience of this time last year, there also remains some uncertainty around the midyear financials.' In May, an unexpectedly poor midyear financial result preceded a share sell-off and an institutional shareholders' rebellion that led to the chairman, John Gay, resigning. The chairman, Chris Newman, told the AGM that due diligence was being undertaken by two potential investors. The company's spokesman confirmed this was continuing. A group of senior pulp mill project personnel was retrenched a fortnight ago in what was said to be a change from the assessment phase to construction. Tasmania's Premier, Lara Giddings, confirmed government backing for the mill and refused to rule out further state government support. The company continues to close native forest woodchip operations and sawmills in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW. Gunns fell 8¢ to 49.5¢ Brisbane Times


2 February 2011 Will Tassie Taxpayers Go Guarantor For Gunns? New Tassie premier Lara Giddings brings plenty of experience to the job. So why is she making the same mistake as her predecessors and cosying up to Gunns? Peter Henning reports... 'As you consider the current Tasmanian political scene, forget the adage that has been applicable to Tasmania for most of the past decade: from bad to worse. With the ascension of Lara Giddings to the office of Premier and her factional stablemate Bryan Green to Deputy Premier, things have gone from bad to beyond bizarre in one fell coup. And coup it was. Just a few weeks ago Tasmania’s then Premier, David Bartlett, offered the press a typically hubristic comment about his personal feelings of being Premier, saying he was now "comfortable in the skin" in the role. Bartlett’s two years in the top job have been marked and marred by some severe flaws, including his self-centred personal style and his cultivation of a narcissistic image. Another was the profound and complete contradiction between his rhetoric and his action. He came to office in 2008 promising to "clean up the mess" created by the government of his previous boss Paul Lennon, especially in relation to scandals which had seen the sacking of two deputies, and the very grubby process surrounding the enactment of legislation to allow Gunns to build a massive pulp mill in northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley. ...' Read more at New Matilda