Essential Queensland is the latest company to establish a site near Isis Central Mill where pine extracts will be processed into commercial products.
Company managing director Ray Mountfort said he had been refining production techniques for the past three years and had developed a patented process that involves extracting rosin and terpene from pine logs.
“The terpenes go into a lot of your perfumes, disinfectants and health care products and the rosins into adhesives, paints and glues,” Ray said.
“In a world-first process, we use our own solvent generated from terpene in the pine trees to facilitate the extraction of the required rosin.”
Ray said he and his team had completed trials and testing procedures and the company was now ready to begin commercial production of the pine extracts.
“With the factory currently under construction we are hopeful to commence reduced throughput by the end of this year ramping up to full production around March 2021.
“Initially we will be processing 100 tonnes of pine wood per day. The timber is chipped prior to being put through the factory and a protracted extraction process.
“We work in conjunction with the sustainable timber industry and source our pine from HQPlantations which operate the large pine forests you see around Bundaberg and all the way down to Brisbane.”
Ray said the pine trees in Australia are extremely high yielding in rosin and terpene.
“Our process does not just involve the use of the bole or main trunk of the tree but also extends to the stump so in effect we are utilising all the timber associated with a pine tree,” he said.
“Nothing is wasted in this process and the post extraction wood chips are scheduled to be shipped overseas through the Port of Bundaberg.
“There is a market in overseas countries for the use of the wood chips as a heating product.
“We have been able to demonstrate that there is considerable value in the products we are extracting from the trees and have been fortunate enough to secure significant forward orders for the rosin and terpene.
“As a matter of fact we have orders pending for the next five years.
“We are currently finalising our first prototype factory which we plan to replicate around Australia and the world as we grow the business.”
Ray said Essential Queensland is currently employing additional staff and expects to have more than 15 staff members to facilitate production.
“Training is currently taking place with staff gaining a knowledge of the mechanics of the plant,” he said.
“It will involve everything from chipping the pine to ensuring the efficient running of the plant to manufacturing the special alloy drums required to hold and ship the rosin.”
Ray said Bundaberg Regional Council had helped introduce him to the current 20-hectare site for his business.
“It had been a pretty hard slog trying to find someone up and down the length of the Queensland coastline to take us seriously but moreover to find land that was within our price range,” he said.
“I have to thank and congratulate (deputy mayor) Bill Trevor, Mayor Jack Dempsey and the Council team, especially the planning department, for their interest and very enthusiastic assistance.
“The first meeting with the planning team resulted in a list of half a dozen potential sites for our factory.
“The site on Kevin Livingstone Drive near the Isis Central Sugar Mill is perfect.
“We are set up opposite Oreco Group, which, as you know, is converting trash blanket into cane mulch to what has become a huge market for them.
“We are thrilled that our business also involves the transformation of raw material into products that are environmentally friendly, sustainable and have a ready market.”
Essential Queensland managing director Ray Mountfort was a keynote speaker at the recent Bioeconomy Bundaberg 2020 conference.