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SSA – October 2022 Newsletter


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Last month, we started off the newsletter like this: As September draws to a close and we prepare for the start of year-end, we find ourselves looking toward the future with hope. Although 2022 has presented its challenges and proved to be a tough year, we remain optimistic that December will bring the usual pick-up in sales.

Talking to many of the sawmillers from up north to down south, it certainly sounds like this anticipated uptick has yet to show its face. But still we can live in hope.

Changes to Air Quality Act regulations in the pipeline
The executive management committee met earlier this month to discuss important issues affecting all sawmillers. The association was invited to attend a workshop hosted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) which announced proposed changes to some of the Air Quality Act’s (AQA) regulations.

The AQA challenge we embarked on two years ago has finally paid off as the DFFE is proposing a number of changes to the regulations governing both kilns and small boilers.

These amendments affect Section 21, subsection 9.5 of the Act. The new proposal is to exclude indirectly fired kilns from having to comply with emissions reporting. This is exactly what we sought in the beginning of our legal bid, before having to go to court.

Changes to the small boiler regulations, however, could be more problematic for some sawmills. Among these changes is a new recommendation that the total boiler capacity that exists on any one site be combined and deemed as the total installed capacity. If this exceeds the small boiler cap of 50Mw, large boiler regulations will apply.

At this stage, these are only proposals that will be released for public comment in the near future before being drafted into the regulations and sent to parliament for ratification. At the end of the process, they will become law, so we encourage all sawmillers, especially those who operate two or more boilers, to keep a close eye on proceedings.

Beyond our shores
Relations with Wespine in Australia continue to strengthen and we understand that independent mills are now dealing or negotiating business. This is something that we will continue to encourage.

Skills development
We are fairly optimistic that Dianne Randall will eventually be successful in extracting the necessary additional funding from the FP&M Seta to enable us to complete skills development projects, including the Saw Doctor Trade, we started a few years ago.

Talking Timber series hots up
On Thursday 27 October, we joined SAWPA and ITC-SA, in once again sponsoring a webinar as part of our Talking Timber series. The aim of these webinars is not only to promote timber in the built environment, but to discuss topics of interest to the architectural and construction sector.

Fire is always a matter of concern when it comes to building with timber. The good news is that various comprehensive international guidelines have recently been developed, allowing designers to produce fire-safe high-rise mass timber structures.

The best attended of the series with nearly 100 participants, the webinar welcomed insights from two experts on the interaction of timber and fire, and on designing timber structures for fire safety. These came from Professor Richard Walls from Stellenbosch University’s Fire Engineering Research Unit and Dirk Streicher, owner and founder of Ignis Testing.

The session focused on the basics of designing timber structures for fire resistance and introducing fire safety concepts such as resistance ratings and standard fire testing. Prof Walls showed how fire ratings for timber can be achieved, and how this compares with other structural systems.

The presenters also discussed considerations such as the design of joints and leaving timber unexposed.

You can view the recording, as well as past webinars, here.

Participants (especially architects) were invited to complete the online fire course for CPD points (0.35) at

We are immensely grateful to our industry and academic partners for pulling these sessions together, in particular Prof Brand Wessels at the University of Stellenbosch and Braam de Villiers from Earthworld Architects who provide guidance and accessibility to their networks. We also thank Tafadzwa Nyanzunda from the dtic for her ongoing support.

Don’t forget to visit our new website too.

Till next month, hopefully with some better news to kick off with.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

Read the full newsletter HERE

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