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Gunns agrees pulp mill preparation deal

GUNNS is to begin bulk earthworks on its $2.3 billion Tamar pulp mill, saying it is in final financing talks on the long-delayed project.

GUNNS is to begin bulk earthworks on its $2.3 billion Tamar pulp mill, saying it is in final financing talks on the long-delayed project.

A seven-month contract was awarded to a John Holland-Hazell Bros joint venture to prepare a platform for the controversial mill, the forestry company said yesterday.

The company said it was engaged in final negotiations for the key terms of the equity financing structure for the project, first unveiled nearly seven years ago.

Gunns has claimed to be near a financial close in the past. But in an update for analysts, it said equipment supply contracts for the mill were to be finalised by December 31 and project finance by March 31 next year.

A beginning on earthworks, and more than $200 million in other spending, is said by managing director Greg L'Estrange to fulfil a Tasmanian environmental permit demand for "substantial commencement" by August 30.

The company is yet to reach a settlement with the state government for giving up future rights to public native forests, a spokesman for premier Lara Giddings said.


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