Media reports for June 2008


30 June Credit Suisse predicts that the pulp mill would add $2 to Gunns' share price but concedes the science of deadly dioxins is beyond them and that they are nervous about Gunns' plantation growth forecasts. ABC

30 June While Gunns Ltd struggles to secure finance for its controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill which labours under a cloud of doubt over its environmental impacts and diminishing public support, a further challenge to its future is being played out in a Victorian court. ABC

30 June 75% of Tasmanians overwhelmingly oppose further state or federal government funding for the Gunns pulp mill, a new EMRS poll has found. The Mercury

29 June This month sees the launch of the “Shrink” campaign, which targets paper waste. “Paper production causes a wide range of harmful environmental impacts,” explains Mandy Haggith, the co-ordinater of the Shrink campaign. “By using less of it we can reduce our pressure on forests, cut energy use and climate change emissions, limit water, air and other pollution and produce less waste. There are also negative social impacts and human rights abuses linked to paper production, particularly in southern countries.” The “Shrink” project, which is backed by more than 50 European environmental NGOs, invites people to pledge to cut their paper consumption on its website: Read the full story at

29 June The forestry industry must  restructure say the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association. Former Forestry Minister Eric Abetz's report recommends reducing contractor numbers in Tasmania by a third. The Examiner

28 June "Scientists to gather over worsening Murray crisis" (Excerpts, ABC PM broadcast 24 June 2008) The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists warns about what's been called the "sleeping giant" when it comes to getting more water into the Murray-Darling river system - thousands of forests being planted and farm dams being dug high up in the catchment, which could take more water away from the system than the total amount governments are seeking to put back in.

Scientists have been warning for more than a decade that the Murray is turning to mud.  Professor Mike Young from the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide said "when you plant trees or when you increase farm dams, then you reduce water from flowing in the river.

The science that's available that's being reported to ministers and is in their own ministerial council minutes, states that in the next 14 years we expect to lose 2,500 gigalitres of water out of the river from these processes at a time when the Government is proposing to put somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 gigalitres back into the system. The plan is still to take the river out backwards. 

The answer is simple and COAG could agree ... to require any person who plants trees or any person who puts in a farm dam to offset that impact, to go into the market and buy water back." ABC

28 June Premier David Bartlett met the head of Gunns for the first time yesterday ahead of his cabinet's decision on whether to grant the company an extension to a $15 million Sovereign Risk Agreement. ABC

28 June Forestry directly employs 6300 Tasmanians or 3.08 per cent of the state's labour force says a new report by the Co-operative Research Centre for Forestry. The Mercury

27 June What does it take to get the Prime Minister's attention these days? After months of fruitless attempts to communicate concerns about Tasmania's proposed $2 billion pulp mill, activists decided there was only one way to get through the ''firewall'' of minders. Write to Kevin Rudd in mandarin. Canberra Times

27 June The forestry industry needs to reduce contractor numbers by a third for remaining operators to remain viable with or without a pulp mill. The preference of Japanese buyers for hardwood woodchips from plantations rather than old-growth forests was the major reason for change. And contractors' claims for compensation on costs of new equipment seems excessive, says a report by the expert group Poyry Forest Industry. The Mercury

26 June The sharemarket took the chainsaw to Futuris' shares and pretty much everyone else in the forest industry sector,as sales of managed investment schemes (MIS) fail to come anywhere near expectations in the the peak selling period. The Age

26 June Police have developed plans to deal with big protests at Gunns' proposed pulp mill. "Elements of it are being practised from time to time" says Police Commissioner. The Mercury

26 June Air quality in Hobart breached national guidelines for harmful PM2.5 pollution twice during the forest autumn burn-off season. No charges were pursued. Gunns sawmill failed to report excessive smoke billowing from its boiler until prompted by authorities. No charges pursued. The Mercury

25 June Mixed messages. The Department of Primary Industries and Water says the public benefits of a water pipeline to the Gunns pulp mill are "limited" but Economic Development Minister Paula Wriedt has a consultant's report on the controversial project which would go to Cabinet if the mill proceeded. The Mercury

25 June Gunns nominates 4 August as the start date of construction for its water pipeline to the planned $2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill. Up to 50 properties are in the path of the $50 million pipeline but several landowners said they would not be selling. The Examiner

24 June The Tasmanian Greens today drew the admission from Water Minister David Llewellyn that no work has been undertaken by the government to assess the capacity of the Trevallyn Dam to provide water during low summer flow periods. Water from the South Esk has to meet competing demands of the proposed Pulp Mill water pipeline, Esk Water, Hydro for the Trevallyn power station, the mandatory environmental flow for the Gorge, and increasing interceptions from uncontrolled plantation expansion. The Greens

24 June The state government continues to spend taxpayers' money on pulp mill. Since last July, $257,591 was outlaid for four staff and consultant's report on the controversial pipeline. The Mercury

24 June Economic Development Minister Paula Wriedt has received a draft cost benefit analysis for Gunns' pulp mill pipeline, but will not take it to Cabinet until the project secures financing. She said if Gunns approached the State Government seeking assistance to secure easements for the pipeline, it might be considered. The Examiner

22 June A national poll of 1000 Australians commissioned by Getup has found 61% oppose the Gunns planned pulp mill.  Ed Coper of GetUp said it shows how much the public's concerns had been ignored in this issue. The Mercury

21 June Gunns had made "premium" offers for land to all landowners affected by the pulp mill water pipeline. An East Tamar landowner, said the Gunns' offer valued his land at less than council valuation. A second landowner told the Mercury he did not want the pipeline. The Mercury

21 June Gunns offers to buy land along the pipline route at 30 per cent above valuation. East Tamar landowners say they have yet to hear from Gunns. Premier David Bartlett again ruled out funding Gunns' pipelines. TAP pipeline co- chairman Buck Emberg said landowners who accepted Gunns' offer could lose value on their property. The Examiner

20 June Share analyst firm JP Morgan say the price of pulp would have to fall 30 per cent to below $US550 a tonne for Gunns Limited not to be able to cover the financing costs of the $2 billion pulp mill. The spot price of pulp is now $US780 a tonne. The Mercury

19 June A forestry analyst, Robert Eastment predicts the Tasmanian Government will grant Gunns' request for a five-month extension to build its planned pulp mill. "They might make various political noises about it but in the end they'll just go along with what Gunns wants," he said. Gunns has to meet an October deadline to get the go ahead from the Federal Government. ABC

18 June Lawyers For Forests began their case in the Federal Court saying approval of Gunns' pulp mill was invalid because the federal minister did not meet obligations set out under the relevant commonwealth legislation. The environmental impact of the pulp mill project should have been better assessed before it was approved. If the LFF was successful, the decision to approve the mill would be set aside. The Australian

18 June Premier David Bartlett will ask Gunns whether the company believes its pulp mill will go ahead before State Cabinet considers a request to extend a Sovereign Risk Agreement between the Government and Gunns. ABC

18 June Gunns has asked the State Government for a five month extension of the sovereign risk agreement condition that construction of the mill would begin before June 30. The agreement provides Gunns with up to $15 million in Government compensation over 20 years if Forestry Tasmania cannot supply the wood under the agreement. The Examiner

18 June Gunns has asked for an extension to its June 30 construction deadline. A Gunns spokesman said construction was likely in August or September. Forestry Tasmania has extended its wood supply agreement from June 30 to November 30. Gunns say it still expects the mill to be operational before the end of 2010, a stated condition in the wood supply agreement. Lawyers for Forests's legal case against the Minister for the Environment will be heard in the Federal Court today. The Mercury

18 June Problems securing finance for its pulp mill has forced Gunns to seek extensions to wood-supply and sovereign-risk agreements. Gunns had planned to begin construction of the mill in September 2007, postponing that to January 2008 and again to June 2008. It remains confident of beginning construction in August or September this year. "There is no delay," a Gunns spokesman said. The Australian

18 June The Tasmanian Greens are set to introduce legislation in Parliament this week to revoke the contentious Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007. The Greens’ Bill will send a clear message to the financial markets that there are serious concerns surrounding the process, and strong public opposition to the project remain. Greens Shadow Pulp Mill spokesperson Kim Booth MP said “the current legislation contains an anti-democratic clause removing all rights for affected parties to seek review of the Act or compensation for damages resulting from the operation of the mill. Removing the fundamental common law rights to seek judicial review and/or compensation for damages caused as a result of the operation of the mill is the behaviour that Australians condemn when carried out by dictatorships in other countries.”

17 June Despite the ANZ exit and tough credit market conditions, pulp prices are helping Gunns.  Interest in funding the pulp mill from international and local banks remains strong. Most share analysts recommend Gunns as a 'buy'', ''outperform'' or ''hold'', with only one calling the shares ''overweight''. Read a full analysis in  The Age

16 June Launceston City Council Alderman Jeremy Ball spoke at the Pipeline Public Meeting Tuesday June 10 6.30pm Tailrace Centre Launceston. "Having been involved in this issue for five years it astounds me that it is still the public who are forced gather at meetings like this to discuss the important issues to do with this Pulp Mill. Tonight we are talking about the proposed water pipeline and yet the government and Gunns Ltd have missed a crucial step in the discussion – have we even got enough water?..."

14 June Premier David Bartlett has backed away from his earlier willingness to consider expanding forest reserves, saying that he now rules it out. His comments are a blow to the conservation movement whilst the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania is relieved. The Australian

13 June Share traders website says recent developments in an ongoing controversy over a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania's Tamar Valley appear to have swung the issue in favor of the mill's opponents.

12 June News commentary service IPSnews says the pulp mill is doomed as bankers back off. But despite recent setbacks, Gunns appears determined to press on.

11 June 500 people at a public meeting organised by the Wilderness Society, called on the State Government to refuse public funding for a water pipeline to Gunns' proposed pulp mill. Buck Emberg, of TAP said "we've had enough deception, enough smoke and mirrors and enough bad decisions made by the Government." Ald. Jeremy Ball questioned if there's enough water. The Examiner

11 June A Launceston rally of 500 Tasmanians is intent on killing off the Gunns pulp mill. In reference to the fall of the Berlin wall, Gerard Castles said "our own Tasmanian wall has started to crumble. It could be the dawn of a new Tasmania." The Mercury

9 June Gunns plans to open a rotary veneer timber mill at Western Junction with an annual production capacity of 67,500 cubic metres. Forest Industry Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said Gunns' venture will take the best quality pulp wood and convert that to a higher quality product than just woodchips. The Examiner

8 June had raised more than $120,000 and is to advertise in London's Financial Times newspaper warning financiers against funding the pulp mill. The Mercury

7 June Superannuation funds to be targeted by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society in its campaign against Gunns Ltd's proposed Bay pulp mill. The introduction of superannuation choice legislation in 2005 meant that people can make decisions about where their contributions go. The Examiner

6 June The world's largest producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp, Aracruz, recently submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment to the authorities in Southern Brazil for a new 1.3 million tonnes a year pulp mill. Aracruz produces 27% of global production, and it is also Latin America's biggest pulp exporter. The company has three pulp-making plants and produces a total of 3 million tonnes of pulp a year. In total, Aracruz has an area of almost 280,000 hectares of industrial tree plantations plus about 90,000 hectares grown under contract with farmers.

4 June ABN AMRO says full debt funding of Gunns pulp mill is all but impossible for the time being and they would have to raise money from shareholders for at least the $700 million construction cost or wait till credit markets eased. The expert said other pulp mill projects around the world were being developed by low-cost, cash-rich pulp producers and were not as dependent as Gunns on project finance. The Mercury

4 June Consulting engineers Pitt and Sherry rejected speculation that they have stopped work on Gunns pulp mill. The Examiner

3 June To protect traditional agriculture, the State Government is set to ban plantations on the top three categories of farm land. However, most tree farms are grown on classes four and five. Gunns says a move to give Councils more say on plantation issues is bad for farmers. ABC

3 June No comment from Pitt and Sherry, the company designing Gunns' pulp mill regarding claims that it has been asked to stop all work on the project. ABC

2 June Pulp analyst Robert Eastment claims that European banks are interested in financing the $2 billion Gunns pulp mill. ABC

2 June Activist group Get Up is targeting the wrong man with an anti-pulp mill advertising campaign, said Premier David Bartlett. Get Up members pledged more than $100,000 to finance a campaign of national advertising to "send a clear message to potential investors" of Gunns planned pulp mill. The Mercury


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