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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 4

I Management Of Native Forests

II Plantations-high Productivity Resources

III Protecting The Resource

IV Harvesting The Resource

V Solid Wood And Its Processing

VI Minor Forest Products

VII Reconstituted Wood Products

VIII Pulp And Paper
i Early eucalypt pulping research and development
ii Eucalypt pulp production begins
iii Early commercial operation
iv The beginnings of pulp production from plantation pine
v Technological development and economic growth
vi 1975 and beyond

IX Export Woodchips

X Future Directions

XI Acknowledgements



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Technological development and economic growth

By the mid-1950s the three major pulp and paper companies had overcome many of the problems associated with eucalypt pulping and, having completed post-war expansion programs, were well-placed to take advantage of the period of strong economic growth that was to continue to the early 1970s. The Commonwealth Government's support for import-replacing manufacturing industry provided some tariff protection, except for pulp and newsprint production. Domestic competition was initially negligible, as each company had its own well-defined market, but it started to become a significant factor with the entry of Wiggins Teape (UK) Ltd. into fine paper manufacture at Shoalhaven, NSW in 1956 (taken over by APPM in 1970) and of Smorgon Consolidated Industries Ltd. (SCI) into packaging paper and paperboard manufacture at Brooklyn, Vic. in 1958.

The technological developments during this period were brought about by a number of factors, perhaps the most important being the numerous opportunities for innovation which arose when new capacity was being installed to keep up with the expanding local markets. New products were introduced to compete with imports, but these were generally based on local adaptations of established overseas technology rather than on original concepts. All companies strove to make improvements in their established products through better process and quality control, marginal changes in product design and progressive reduction in the weight per unit area (grammage).

APPM established a paper coating plant at Ballarat, Vic. in 1951 and in 1970, a new pulp and paper mill to make coated and uncoated magazine papers at Wesley Vale, Tasmania, while high grade coated cartonboard production was introduced by APM at Petrie, Qld. in 1963. APM introduced tissue manufacture from imported pulp at its Botany, NSW mill in 1954 and then sought ways of making a suitable pulp from South Australian pine plantation thinnings. Through research it was able to establish conditions under which this could be done economically using the sodium bisulphite pulping process, which at that time was believed to be unsuitable for pines. In 1960 APM and Cellulose Australia Ltd. jointly established the Apcel pulp and paper mill at Millicent to produce both tissues and towelling from pine bisulphite pulp and this became, in 1963, part of Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty. Ltd. (KCA) (50 per cent APM; 50 per cent Kimberly-Clark Corporation, USA). Also in 1960 Bowater-Scott Ltd. (50 per cent Bowater Paper Co., UK; 50 per cent Scott Paper Co., USA) commissioned a tissue and towelling mill based on imported pulp at Box Hill, Vic. to supply their existing tissue and towelling conversion operation. In 1973 Australian Forest Industries was established at Myrtleford, Vic. by Bowater-Scott as an integrated radiata pine sawmilling and refiner mechanical pulp operation to supply part of its pulp needs.

It was in the process rather than product area, however, that most new technology was generated in the 1950s and 60s, although here again often as an adaptation or further development of some established method originating overseas. APPM developed a successful two-stage soda batch pulping process in the late 1940s to reduce alkali requirements[91] and when, a few years later, a new type of continuous digester was introduced in Sweden for single stage alkaline pulping APPM, realizing its intrinsic advantages over batch pulping and its potential for two-stage operation, ordered one of the very first units, modified for its own requirements. APPM then developed the system further, by converting it to countercurrent pulping (with the pulping liquor moving upward through the downward moving wood chips) and adding a final stage of in-digester pulp washing. Overall this innovation was most successful and resulted in alkali savings, improved heat economy, reduced bleaching chemical requirement and alleviation of the earlier black liquor evaporation and burning problems.[92] APPM licensed its new technology overseas where its in-digester pulp washing principle has now become standard for most continuous digesters.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Forest Industries, Myrtleford; Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd (A.P.M.); Australian Pulp and Paper Mills (A.P.P.M.); Bowater Paper Co., U.K.; Bowater-Scott Ltd; Cellulose Australia Ltd; Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty Ltd (K.C.A.); Smorgan Consolidated Industries Ltd (S.C.I.)

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© 1988 Print Edition page 238, Online Edition 2000
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