THE second round of job cuts since Christmas at Imbil's hoop pine mill begins today, as Hyne Mary Valley positions itself to survive what it says is the toughest time in the history of the timber industry.
Eighteen full-time employees and two contract positions will be axed after the deadline for voluntary redundancies ended yesterday.
This brings to 36 the number of workers the mill has put off since the start of the year.
At the root of the problem is the persistent downturn in the Queensland building industry.
This has been compounded by the ongoing high Australian dollar and cheap imports which local timber exporters like Hyne cannot compete with.
Come July 1, the company faces the added burden of the carbon tax.
Hyne employs more than 400 full-time staff and contractors at its Imbil, Melawondi and Tuan operations.
Hyne Mary Valley joint CEO Chris Robertson said yesterday that, apart from culling 20 jobs from the mill's 170-strong workforce, the company had greatly reduced its exports and implemented a series of new efficiencies to protect its long-term sustainability.
"In order to safeguard the Hyne Mary Valley manufacturing business in the current difficult economic conditions, all structural products (timber used in construction) will be now produced at the Hyne Tuan Mill and the Mary Valley operation will focus entirely on the manufacture of high value appearance grade products for domestic and limited export markets," Mr Robertson said.
"These changes to the Mary Valley product mix mean that only one of the current two Green Mill shifts will be required at the Imbil mill (resulting in the job cuts).
"All other operations at the Mary Valley remain at their current levels. After the changes are completed, employment at the Hyne Mary Valley operations will still total 100 full-time positions plus another 70-80 contract employees involved in logging, freight, logistics and general mill services."
The building industry downturn and subsequent low demand for structural products meant the loss being carried by that arm of the company was too heavy for the Mary Valley mill which is why it had been moved to Tuan, an operation three to four times bigger and more able to carry those losses until the building industry is back on its feet.
"It takes the losses away from here and allows this business to be sustainable," Mr Robertson said.
Hyne's mouldings facility was in February/March relocated from Virginia, Brisbane, to Imbil to help offset some of the job cuts and make the company more freight efficient.
Both Mr Robertson and state CEO Shane Robertson said times had never been worse for the timber industry.
"We have been in it for 20-30 years and have never seen it this bad," (Chris) Robertson said. "It's insane."
But both are confident the new efficiencies and restructuring will carry the Mary Valley mill through the rest of the hard times.
"We are supreme optimists and we are optimistic for the Mary Valley operation, in particular, that we have got the model right," they said.