Reaching the Mauritian timber industry

Sylvester pine after treatment at Grewals in MauritiusArch Wood Protection SA is expanding its Southern African footprint, extending its reach, its products and its expertise in the sub-Saharan region. It has established a close working relationship with Mauritian timber supplier, Grewals, one of the leading timber merchants and sawmillers and owner of the only commercial treatment plant on the island.

Daryll Ehrke of Arch Wood Protection says, “Given that little commercial timber is grown on the island, most supplies are imported from Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa. This mix of imports presents a variety of treatment and processing requirements.

“Sylvester pine, for example, used in decking applications, is grown in Siberia and is quite difficult to treat against infestation and weathering due to the extreme conditions in which it is grown, notwithstanding the fact that it’s a soft wood.

“On the other hand, Kempas, a hardwood imported from Indonesia and typically used for roof shingles, has to be envelope-treated to protect the surface of the sap wood, so the requirements for each product are very different.”

Over recent years Grewals has faced competition from cheaper imports from India and China and having its own treatment plant gives the company a competitive advantage. “Effective treatment to ensure the timber fulfils its desired service life is therefore important to Grewals,” Ehrke points out, “and this is the focus of our relationship.”

As a consequence of its historical ties with the European Union and France in particular, Mauritius was the first African and Indian Ocean island country to move to the exclusive use of new generation non-arsenic environmentally friendly Tanalith E preservatives, which are suitable for the timber used in hand rails, decking, fencing and other garden and leisure applications.

“For Arch Wood Protection this means that our association with Grewals and the Mauritian timber industry exposes us to the professional application of Tan E at plant level,” says Ehrke. “Although Tan E is not yet widely used in South Africa it could become so and it’s important that Arch, as market leader in treatment application and knowledge, stays ahead of the local market in this regard.”

In view of the island nation’s growth strategy, Ehrke sees a growing demand for treated timber from the Mauritian market in general and from the development of tourist resorts in particular.

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