A PARTICLE board plant employing 100 people will be built near Kawerau within two years to produce panel board for export to China.
Chinese-based Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group has announced plans to establish the plant, to be built on Putauaki Trust land adjoining State Highway 34.
In a statement, Fenglin said it expected the greenfield development would cost $180 million to build.
The plant will produce 600,000 cubic metres of panel board annually for export to China.
The announcement follows a recent visit to China by representatives of Kawerau District Council, Putauaki Trust, economic development agency Toi-EDA, Asia advisory consultancy Eastern Bridge, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the ministry of foreign affairs and trade.
The delegation visited the Fenglin Group’s Mingyang medium-density fibreboard and Huizhou particle board plants, and met with group founder Mr Liu, chairman Mr Cui and chief executive officer Mr Wang.
Fenglin Group representatives visited Kawerau in August 2016 to assess the location’s suitability for a particle board plant.
Kawerau District Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton said a number of factors led to the group’s decision to invest in Kawerau.
“The district’s location and proximity to the Port of Tauranga, the rail connections and the available land all played a part. Putauaki Trust had the foresight to rezone 70-hectares of land as industrial and it’s great to be working with them on this exciting venture.”
The plant would be built next to the site proposed for a new container terminal, also on Putauaki Trust land, and would be as environmentally friendly as possible.
“The Fenglin Group has a strong sense of social and economic values, and makes every effort to ensure its plants have low environmental impact,” Mr Sutton said.
That was important to Putauaki Trust, in terms of kaitiakitanga and cultural standards.
Trust chairman Tiaki Hunia said the trust was impressed with Fenglin Group’s commitment to environmental sustainability and it looked forward to a positive, long-term partnership.
Overseas Investment Office approval and other consents must be obtained, but if everything went to plan the plant should be fully operational by 2019, Mr Hunia said.
Fenglin Group was committed to training for its local employees, and a dedicated programme would be implemented closer to the plant’s opening date.
Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell said the development would be of huge benefit to a district short of training and job opportunities.
The group was also committed to becoming part of the Kawerau community and would work closely with representatives in the future, he said.
Fenglin Group is a leading wood industry group in China.
It has four production bases, including three medium-density fibre board facilities in Guangxi’s Nanning and Baise, and one particle board facility in Guangdon’s Huizhou City.
The plants’ total capacity is 780,000 cubic metres a year.
To ensure secured supply of wood material, the company owns 14,000ha of plantation forest.