THE green light on the Norske Skog paper mill’s $50 million plus upgrade won’t be switched on until at least the middle of next year.
Shadow minister for climate action, environment and heritage Greg Hunt toured the Ettamogah plant yesterday with member for Farrer Sussan Ley and the Coalition due were briefed on the project’s status.
The company is already spending $84 million upgrading a newsprint machine at its Boyer mill near Hobart with the redevelopment attracting federal and state government funding.
Environment and business development manager Michael Machin said the company’s immediate focus was the Tasmanian project.
“We are anticipating when that project is commissioned, which is quarter two next year, that the board will be willing to listen to another major project,” he said. “But we are ready to go.”
Norske Skog is planning to build a biomass boiler and steam turbine to power its mill and share power with others.
The company has a massive power bill due to the carbon tax.
Mr Hunt said Norske Skog could save $1 million in power costs under the Coalition’s Direct Action plan if the upgrade was to go ahead.
“It couldn’t be clearer, couldn’t be more factual and couldn’t be more open,” he said.
“There is the potential for incentives and it is a competitive system, no doubt about it.
“We will find the lowest cost emission reductions around the country.
“But the planned upgrade they are talking about here is precisely the sort of practical, direct way of reducing emissions, cleaning up the environment and doing it in a low cost way.”
Mr Hunt said the Coalition alternative to the carbon tax had been on the table since February 2010.
“(Norske Skog) is an example of a firm which has been hit by the carbon tax and will benefit under the Coalition approach,” he said.
“It is a triple whammy for local workers as a consequence of the carbon tax.
“The amount of free permits they get is going to decline under Mr Rudd’s carbon tax.
“As of July 1 next year there is a new trucking tax on this firm and every firm in Australia which is transporting goods around.”