Technology at $7m Mt Gambier plant poles apart from run-of-mill treatment

Timber Magazine

Revolutionary new green process converts residues into biochar.

A low toxicity treated pine fence post that withstands bushfires is the latest example of the South Australian forest industrys commitment to innovation.

The Tana post is the result of a $7 million investment by the Mount Gambier-based Roundwood Solutions.

Founder Stephen Telford describes his business as a mum and dad company that started from humble roots more than 30 years ago.

The company has now grown to become the biggest supplier in Australia of treated and untreated pine products, including timber posts used in agriculture, employing more than 100 full and part-time staff.

It was a strategic business decision that led to the development of Roundwood Solutions innovative new treated fence post.

Roundwood was always a first-stage processor; we bought our timber from commercially grown pine forests, then we processed, graded and bundled, and on-sold to treatment plants, explained Mr Telford.

The market didnt know who we were, because we sold our wood to treaters.

To sustain our business in the long term we decided to value-add our timber by putting in our own treatment plant.

However, Roundwood Solutions decided to create a new point of difference in the market by partnering with Lonza Wood Protection, the chemical company that has developed a new low-toxicity treatment, the approved Tanilth K.

They had done the R&D and tested it for some time, but needed someone to commercialise and market it, Mr Telford said.

Recognising the impact the innovation would have on the post industry, Roundwood Solutions developed a $7 million treatment facility at Tantanoola Enterprise Park, utilising state-of-the-art technology to produce the Tana post.

The treatment facility is the first of its kind in the world, with the ability to convert residue – which is part of the process of making the post – into biochar, which is used as a soil amendment for farmers.

Roundwood Solutions says it is the only company that can provide a cradle to the grave scenario for post products.

All timber is sourced from commercially-grown forests, certified under such schemes as Responsible Wood, the governing body in Australia for PEFC International.

Once a Tana post reaches the end of its life, the company will take the product back and burn it, using the energy generated to drive the boiler for steam that dries the timber in the first place, and create the biochar product.

The company has now developed a further value-add by adding a fire retardant to the treatment process.

If there happens to be a bushfire in a vineyard or farming property, once it has passed the post will not continue to burn and the fence will still be in place, Mr Telford said.

Given the last devastating bushfire season thats another good environmental plus.


Its great to see Spanlift sheds being used by our client Roundwood Solutions in Mount Gambier to develop this technology. We can create industrial sheds big enough for your next project. Contact us and see what we can do for you.