WATCH: Pine extraction business aiming to supply the world
IT'S been one of the "hardest years" of Ray Mountfort's life, but through hard work and perseverance, the team at Essential Queensland have created a method to process pine that is both cost and product effective.
The managing director of Essential Queensland, Mr Mountfort, said for the past year they had been focusing on selection, sizing, solvent extraction, design and throughput to get the maximum value out of their HQ Plantation logs.
The process means they only process the high-resin yielding quarter of the log to get their rosin and turpentine products.
"What we've been doing this last year is developing a new process of accessing those chemicals with our own technologies, right from the harvest point in the forest through to the exit point here out of the factory," he said.
"We've developed a process that we're now patenting to protect that intellectual property that our staff have developed for the company.
"We've been raising the capital alongside of that to expand our pilot facility here into a commercial production facility.
"That's another $4.6 million investment requirement to go on top of the nearly $3 million already that's gone into developing this facility."
He said the actuality of the commercial facility would make them more than capable of being internationally competitive for the production of these chemicals.
"In fact it makes us competitive with petroleum-sourced chemicals as well," he said.
"That's our aim, to become the world's go-to provider for those chemicals."
Through their process, Mr Mountfort said their plant was four-times more efficient.
"Instead of putting the whole log through, we're putting the same amount through and getting four times more yield," he said.
"That's what we've been working on, so instead of having to buy a 250-tonne-a-day factory, we're buying a 75-tonne-a-day factory … so the investment cost, through good design, is minimised.
"With the high yields going through, the highest we've achieved is 45 per cent, by weight.
That means that there's 450kg of product taken out for 1 tonne of input."
But that doesn't mean the rest is waste, he said everything was the be reused in some capacity with their process.
Taking the high yielding core of the log for processing, the remaining lumber can then be sold on, while the woodchips can be used as wood pellets.
Something he hopes to one day create on-site.
Having determined their extraction methodology, this year's focus is securing funds and investors to take their pilot plant to a commercial level.
With the step up to commercial capacity, comes a range of job opportunities.