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Southwood mill to reopen after bushfire damage


Ta Ann mill fire

A Southwood mill damaged by the January bushfires in the state's south will reopen next month.

Power was restored to the Neville Smith Forest Products Southwood mill recently, allowing repair work to get underway.

CEO Andrew Walker says it's been a busy couple of weeks.

"We're expecting to reopen in the first week of May, so since the power was returned to the site a bit over a week ago, we've been retesting all of our machinery and making necessary repairs to be able to reopen."

He says all staff have been paid since January.

"It's been a long way for our employees. All of our employees through that period of time have been paid in full and we've had them doing various other tasks and training in the meantime, so everyone is looking forward to getting back to work."

Mr Walker's mill received damage in the blaze, but not as extensive as Ta Ann Tasmania's mill.

That mill is laying off 16 workers as uncertainty remains over the future of its Southwood veneer mill operation. In a statement, General Manager Robert Yong said they're waiting on insurance outcomes and still don't know what impact the fires had on 10,000 hectares of supply forest.

Another 10 workers have been redeployed to the company's Huon and Smithton operations.

Mr Walker says his company understands the struggles for Ta Ann.

"From our perspective, we have great empathy for Ta Ann and their employees. Our employees have good relations with the Ta Ann employees and we certainly feel for them in this situation," he added.

Image: Ta Ann Tasmania's Southwood veneer mill fire damage (supplied)