Global Trends Review, October 06-19, 2014: first CLT production opens in Finland; overall European glulam output falling
The first production of cross-laminated timber (CLT) opened in Finland, launched by Crosslam company, PuuInfo reported. According to Managing Director Juha Virta, this material is beginning to be well-known in apartment building construction. The aim for Crosslam’s production by the end of the year is 1,000 m3 per month of ready element boards, which corresponds to about two apartment buildings each containing 15 dwellings. Elements from 60mm to 400mm thick will be manufactured. The entire European CLT production is more than 500,000 m3 per year.
One of the possible applications could be 6x6x6-metre cube-shaped modules made of CLT massive wood elements for the Asian market designed by architect Marco Casagrande. Paracity modular houses are designed to be built in the coming years in Taiwan, Japan and Indonesia, both for reconstruction in disaster-hit areas and for the rebuilding of slums in heavily populated cities. These modules are fast-building and can be combined in horizontal and vertical directions, entire urban districts can be built of them and other infrastructure can be planned in between them, Casagrande explains.
Meanwhile, after two years of stagnation, the overall production of glue-laminated timber in Europe in 2013 has dropped considerably, Holzkurier reported. With 2.62 million m3, output decreased by 4.2%. This might be followed by a decline of another 2% in the current year. At the same time, there is considerable investment activity taking place in Germany and in Romania. The biggest cut comes in Sollenau, Austria, where Stora Enso will stop its beam production in 2015 in addition to already closed sawmill. The on-going construction crisis in Italy is reflected in the order books of the Austrian manufacturers.
The French Sawmills Association (FNB) has called for the protest against massive roundwood exports to Asia as a major risk to the domestic industry. Allegedly in the current year, one million solid cubic metres of roundwood were exported to China. This will cause a loss value to the sector of €800 million, says FNB quoted by Fordaq.
In a report of the regional television channel FR3 Alpes, a hardwood sawyer explained that two of his traditional suppliers now prefer to deliver to Asia, instead of supplying his sawmill. In addition to the hardwood exports matter, an increase in France’s softwood exports to Asia is also feared.
By price increases and tightening hygiene policies, measures have already been taken to contain exports of roundwood to Asia, so far without considerable success. Therefore, French sawmills demand an export ratio regulation. To what extent such a regulation could be implemented, is however completely unclear.
Stocks of imported logs at the main Chinese ports are reported as high and stocks of logs from New Zealand are especially high, ITTO writes. China’s Customs reported that between January and August this year log imports rose 22% to 35.38 million m3. The top 5 countries in terms of log supply were New Zealand (8.06 million m3, up 12%), Russia (7.70 million m3, 11%), the USA (4.41 million m3, 31%), Papua New Guinea (2.24 million m3, 23%) and Canada (2.04 million m3, 18%).
Log imports from African suppliers passing through Guangdong ports grew 37% to 652,000 cubic metres in the eight months to August and accounted for 29% of all logs through Guangdong ports. The main reason cited for the increase in log imports through Guangdong was the higher demand from Chinese furniture makers in the region. Log imports have been rising partly as domestic logs are becoming more expensive.
New Zealand export log prices have lifted from a two-year low as Chinese importers resume buying and local returns are bolstered by a decline in the New Zealand dollar and cheaper shipping costs, an article at BusinessDesk says. A lot of importers in China speculate on price and port inventories constantly, increasing deliveries before the growth in demand happens, so that they can have higher price by the time.
New Zealand logs are mostly used in the construction industry, where demand remains lacklustre, as NZ’s Agrifax company forestry analyst Ivan Luketina says. Many Chinese sawmills were also trying to adjust their business to the furniture market, where they saw more demand. Luketina predicts the share of NZ logs in Chinese imports will grow, as Canada will cut less and use more logs locally, while Russia’s logging costs are growing.
Currency fluctuations are influencing one more region: ITTO predicts curtailment of wood product imports to Japan because of the weakening yen.
A large timber centre, worth RMB 3 billion ($490.4 million), opened in Dongyang City of Zhejiang Province, China. This site will integrate processing, marketing and storage facilities. There are more than 3,000 redwood furniture enterprises in Dongyang City which is the most important redwood production base and is largest classical furniture production zone in China. Banking and logistic services will be also rendered at the timber centre.
Japanese company Tama Home is going to establish a joint venture in India to deal in real estate development. Housing market in India has been rapidly expanding so Tama Home thinks India is a promising market, including renovation business.
Kronospan Group reached a deal a few months ago with the Binder Group to acquire machinery from an MDF mill in Hallein (Austria) that closed in early March and transfer the whole 280,000 m3 production line to SFC Entegre Orman Urunleri Sanayi ve Ticaret (Turkey), EUWID reported. This company’s majority shareholder is Kronospan Group. Commissioning is due to take place in the middle of 2015.