By MALUM NALU
PNG Forest Products evolved from Bulolo Gold Dredging (BGD) Ltd, a mining company that commenced mining operations in Bulolo in 1932.
|Bulolo Airport, which is maintained by PNGFP.-Nationalpics by MALUM NALU|
BGD was owned by Placer and it operated seven dredges in what was then the world’s largest gold field.
In 1952 Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers was established to produce plywood from large natural stands of Klinkii and Hoop Pine surrounding the Bulolo valley.
|Downstream processing of plywood in the PNGFP plymill.|
Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers (CNGT) shareholding at the formation of the company was 50% owned by the Australian Commonwealth government and 50% by Placer.
In 1980, CNGT changed its name to PNG Forest Products.
The shareholding has changed over time, and today, IB Holdings from Singapore retains 80% and the PNG government 20%.
Through the activities of BGD, CNGT and PNGFP, Bulolo has been a major centre of economic activity and rural employment for the past 80 years.
During this period Bulolo has always had a full range of supporting activities including an airport, retail stores, bakery, butchery, farm and recreational facilities including a swimming pool, tennis courts, golf club, bowls club and several sports fields.
Previously, Bulolo also had two picture theatres, which became redundant with the arrival of videos.
Today PNG Forest Products is a large and diversified company employing 1,700 people.
“PNGFP’s timber is sourced from sustainable pine plantations in the Bulolo and Wau area,” says managing director Tony Honey.
“These plantations are managed by PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) and harvesting is carried out by PNGFP.
|Pine logs ready to be turned into plywood.|
“The plantations were established in the 1950s and cover an area of approximately 10,000ha.
“The majority of the timber in the plantations is Hoop and Klinkii Pine which are native to the area.
“PNGFP intends to establish its own plantation in the next few years to increase the plantation area by a further 5,000 hectares.
“This will ensure the business can expand into the future in a sustainable manner.
“In addition, PNGFP generates its own power from two hydro power stations at Baiune to supply its manufacturing facilities, commercial and residential areas.
“The combination of a sustainable timber resource which is processed with the use of sustainable hydro power makes PNGFP’s processed timber products truly and uniquely green.”
Honey says PNGFP employment figures have grown substantially in recent years and it is envisaged the number of employees will continue to increase into the future in both existing activities and new activities which are now in various stages of development.
|Processed plywood at PNGFP Bulolo.|
“In addition to the 1,700 people directly employed by PNGFP the National Forest Service at Bulolo employs a further 200 people to manage the Bulolo/Wau pine plantations in support of PNGFP,” he said.
“PNGFP implemented a training programme for its work force in the 1970s and this has now operated continually for over 35 years, training apprentices and cadets in a wide range of trades and disciplines.
“Trades people, supervisors and managers who had their training in Bulolo can be found all over PNG.
“It is estimated PNGFP has trained over 1000 apprentices and cadets in that period.
“PNGFP takes pride in the support it provides its employees with both formal training and informal training in the work place.
|Proudly PNG-Made PNGFP products ready to be exported.|
“The benefit of this training is demonstrated by the small turnover of our work force.
“PNGFP has a loyal and committed workforce who comprise approximately 97% Papua New Guinea nationals and 3% expatriate staff.
“A unique feature of our workforce is the number of long-term employees we have, many national and expatriate employees have been with the company for over 30 years.
“This is quite an achievement and obviously contributes to the stability and success of our company.”