The development of the Australian paper industry and the Victorian forest industry are intrinsically linked. The research undertaken to use short fibred eucalypt pulps to replace imported long fibred softwood pulp in the 1930’s represented a major technological triumph for Australia. What began in 1868 on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River, today contributes over nine hundred million dollars annually to Australia’s gross domestic product.
The major products of the Australian paper industry today are the linerboard and corrugated paper used by the fibre box industry, newsprint, printing and writing paper, bag, sack and other industrial papers, cartonboards, tissues and towellings.
There is a document describing the history of making paper available here and this paper describes the positions of the three major companies that arise from this history of plantation expansion and pulp and paper making.
The paper making industry in the Australian colonies was founded on rag and waste paper. High international freight costs meant wood pulp was not available.
Because the world’s pulping industry was based on the softwood forests of Europe and the Americas, the Australian papermaking industry remained static for decades.
During the Depression, which commenced in 1929, APM Ltd was concerned with its growing imports, particularly of bleached and unbleached sulphite pulp from the long fibres of the world’s softwoods. It employed scientists, LR Benjamin and his assistant RB Jeffreys during the 1930’s to find a local replacement using the short fibres of Australian eucalypts. The Kraft tests, using three batches of Eucalyptus regnans, were undertaken at the Kraft digester at the Botany Mill NSW, and gave the promise of a pulp which was easy to bleach.
Further testing showed:
In 1936, APM decided to build the Maryvale Kraft mill in the Latrobe Valley. In December of that year, the Victorian Parliament gave APM the right to log timber in the eastern forests.
Maryvale Mill Gippsland was established in 1937. It was the pioneer of a new type of wood pulp production, not only in Australia but globally, using native eucalypts through the technique known as the “Kraft” process. By 1939, this new Kraft mill had an annual capacity of 28,000 tonnes of wood pulp.
In 1986, Australian Paper Manufacturers was renamed AMCOR Limited.
In April 2000, AMCOR demerged its business printing papers to focus on global packaging. The spin off company was named Paperlinx (which included Australian Paper and Australian Paper Plantations Pty Ltd).
In June 2009, Paperlinx’s manufacturing business - Australian Paper – Maryvale Mill Latrobe Valley Victoria was sold to Nippon Paper Group Inc. of Japan.
In 2018, 80 years of papermaking at Maryvale Mill was celebrated.
Today (2019) Maryvale Mill is an integrated pulp and paper mill, producing both wood pulp and paper, owned by Australian Paper, (a subsidiary of the Nippon Paper Group of Japan)
APM Forests was formed in 1951 by Australian Paper Manufacturers (which became a wholly owned subsidiary of AMCOR Ltd.) with the primary aim of supplying pulpwood to the Maryvale Mill through the establishment of a plantation base and co-ordination of pulpwood harvesting.
APM Forests operations included:
By 2001, APM Forests gross land holding (including freehold and leasehold land) in Gippsland was 85,000 hectares. Of this land base:
By 2001,the volume of wood harvested from both from APM Forests plantations and State Forests was approximately 1.4 million tonnes per year.
In 2001 APM Forest plantations were sold to Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP).
APM Ltd Publication. MARYVALE MILL 1979
APM Ltd Publication. APM TODAY 1980
APM Forests Farm Woodlots in Gippsland - 1991 edition. A guide for farmers, investors and tree planters
Opal (was Australian Paper)
Chandler W G Pine plantings operations of APM Forests Pty Ltd. Paper presented to ANZAAS 29 Meeting August 1957
Hancock Victorian Plantations
Kitchener D T The Australian Pulpwood Story July 1979 - Produced by the Tasmanian Forestry Commission for the Australian Forestry Council
McGregor Peter PAPER 1988 - Part of the made in Australia learning activity topics ISBN 0 0949219185
Mann M.J. APM Forests plantation projects – the first forty years.
Page 157 Prospects for Australian Forest plantations edited by John Dargavel and Noel Semple, CRES ANU 1990
Murray P R Paper and people APM 1981
Noble W S The Strzeleckis - A new future for the Heartbreak Hills
Sinclair S. K. The Spreading Tree – A History of APM and AMCOR 1844 – 1989
History of Paper (Wikipedia)
Wooster R The long road from seed to paper. Page 4-18 December 1984/January 1985 Logger an AFIJ publication
"Let us regard the forest as an inheritance, not to be destroyed or devastated, but to be wisely used, reverently honoured and carefully maintained. Let us regard the forest as a gift, entrusted to any of us only for transient care, to be surrendered to posterity as an unimpaired property, increased in riches and augmented in blessings, to pass as a sacred patrimony from generation to generation."
Baron Ferdinand von Mueller - Suggestions on the Maintenance, Creation and Enrichment of Forests (1879)