Associated Pulp & Paper Mills

Associated Pulp & Paper Mills, Burnie, 1950s (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)

Associated Pulp & Paper Mills Limited was formed by entrepreneur, Gerald Mussen, with major shareholders the associated mining companies of Collins House, Melbourne. Mill construction at Burnie began in 1936, and in 1937 a small staff oversaw the installation of machinery, staff training, wood procurement and the provision of a laboratory and housing for key personnel. In August 1938, no 1 machine began production using imported pulp, and in November it started using eucalypt pulp. The machine's maximum speed was 183 metres per minute and it was more suited to making newsprint than fine papers. Early in the Second World War a small slower second-hand machine was in production. The mill had great difficulty in penetrating the market, and the expanded need for paper during the war saved it.

In the 1950s and 1960s a hardboard mill with nos 3, 4, and 10 machines, and a new mill, Papermakers Limited, with nos 5 to 9 machines, were added at Burnie, and at Wesley Vale a Particle Board Mill and no 11 machine with a coater were installed.

Recent years have seen industrial troubles; a change of owners; the sale of forests and the Particle Board Mill; and the closures of Papermakers, Hardboard, and Pulp Mills. But production has been maintained at a high level due to computerisation and higher efficiencies. The labour force is less than half its highest peak (much to the detriment of Burnie) and the latest machine, no 11 at Wesley Vale, runs at up to 800 metres per minute. (The author is one of two remaining staff of 1937.)

Paul Edwards