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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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1975 and beyond

The high and steady consumption growth rate which the paper industry experienced through most of the 1960s and early 70s gave way after the 1975 recession first to a period of reduced consumption and then to some resumption of growth but at a lower level. Moreover, imports became more competitive, costs were increasing and plastics were making significant inroads into many traditional paper markets. On the other hand large and expanding potential markets were opening up in the Western Pacific area, the post-war pine plantations were starting to reach the age at which large new pine pulp mill projects could be considered with the aim of replacing pulp imports, and large eucalypt wood chip projects had been started, with the potential for later conversion to pulp and paper production for export.

The new economic climate in which the industry had to operate emphasized its scale factor disadvantage compared with that of its main competitor countries. Fortunately two new large state-of-the-art paper machines were commissioned about this time -a 100 000 tonne/year three-wire fourdrinier by SCI in 1975 and a 150 000 tonne/yr fourdrinier by APM at Maryvale in 1977 -both primarily for packaging paper and paperboard products. In addition some of the larger and more modern existing machines were up-graded and expanded and most of the older and smaller machines were closed down. Computer control of machines and processes became widespread, to improve quality and operating efficiency, and was particularly useful where large numbers of grade changes had to be made to supply the range of products needed by the small domestic market. In 1981 ANM commissioned a 180 000 tonne/yr newsprint machine at a new mill near Albury, NSW. This is now the largest paper-making machine in Australia and comparable in scale with other recent newsprint projects around the world.

Somewhat against the trend to larger and fewer machines, however, were three new small paper mills which began operations in the early 1980s. Near Ipswich, Qld., Cosco Holdings Ltd. established a tissue mill with two small machines using imported pulp and Visy Board Pty. Ltd., the largest fibreboard container manufacturer in Australia, installed paper machines at two of its container plants in Melbourne and Sydney to produce container materials for its own use, from its container waste supplemented by purchased pulp and wastepaper. Visy Board is currently installing a third machine.

The major changes in pulping technology in this period were largely related to the increasing availability of plantation pines which, by 1984/85, comprised about 50 per cent of pulpwood removals by the pulp industry, compared with about 18 per cent in 1964/65. The first thermo-mechanical pulping (TMP) plant in Australia was installed in 1977 at KCA's Apcel mill to produce 30 000 tonne/yr pulp from radiata pine to blend with bisulphite pulp for use in tissues and towelling. TMP was developed overseas as an adaptation of the Asplund de-fibration process, originally used for hardboard production, in which wood is de-fibred by disc refining at a temperature high enough to weaken its interfibre bonding. TMP pulps are obtained in very high yields and are stronger and suffer less fibre shortening than other types of mechanical pulp. They are, however, still lower in strength than chemical pulps.

In 1978 ANM installed a TMP plant at its Boyer, Tas. newsprint mill using radiata pine from Tasmanian Forestry Commission plantations.[98] Experience from this operation helped in the development of the Albury project, which was based on a furnish of over 90 per cent two-stage TMP pulp from radiata pine drawn mainly as thinnings from State plantations in southern NSW and north-eastern Victoria. The balance was initially purchased softwood kraft but with further technical development the need for this was eliminated, a major technological achievement. This mill increased Australia's self-sufficiency in newsprint to about 75 per cent.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd (A.N.M.); Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd (A.P.M.); Cosco Holdings Ltd; Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty Ltd (K.C.A.); Smorgan Consolidated Industries Ltd (S.C.I.); Visy Board Pty Ltd

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 240 - 241, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher