The development of a fire retardant made from Ouvea premix could provide the solution for Mataura residents worried about the product stored in the former Carter Holt Harvey paper mill.
Taha Asia Pacific went into liquidation in August last year, but its store of premix still sits in the mill in Mataura.
Taha Fertiliser Industries was granted a retrospective resource consent by the Gore District Council to store the premix at the site, on the banks of the Mataura River, in 2015.
Taha Fertiliser Industries, which is also in liquidation, is an offshoot of Taha Asia Pacific.
A company formed in 2014 called CMT Industries has the patent for the fire retardant in New Zealand and is well down the track to securing patents globally.
Company director Ivan Hodgetts said fellow director Hamish McCallum developed the product. The fledgling company was trying to secure a sustainable market for it before setting up a manufacturing plant, he said.
Samples had been given to prospective buyers to allow them to analyse it, Mr Hodgetts said.
There was no firm time frame for when a plant might be established. It could be based overseas or in Southland, and the Mataura Valley could be among sites to be considered, he said.
If a plant was set up in the region, it would bring jobs and contribute to the local economy.
The company was keen to help the Mataura community rid the town of the premix, by using it to make a useful product.
“It’s an exciting opportunity.”
Both directors attended a recent public meeting in Mataura called to gain answers about when the 10,000 tonnes of premix would be removed and who would carry out the work.
Mr McCallum gave a brief outline of the plan at the meeting.
“In our view that is a very good use of it [the premix],” Mr Hodgetts said.
The premix was also stored at other sites in Southland, he said.
“I don’t think it’s [supply] going to run out too quickly.”
Mataura Community Board chairman Alan Taylor said anyone who could take a waste product and make a viable product from it should be applauded.
All options should be investigated, he said.
“It’s got to be considered.”
It was not only Mataura that had problems with the premix.
Whatever the solution was, it would take time to implement it, he said.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said he was aware of the company’s work but had not had any formal meetings with the parties.
But at the public meeting, he talked to the directors about it.
He described the concept of turning the premix into fire retardant as quite revolutionary.
“If it works, then it’s got some real benefits,” he said.
The premix issue affected centres throughout Southland, he said.
“If a problem can be turned into an opportunity, that’s great.”
CMT Industries Ltd
The companies Office records show CMT Industries Ltd has four directors:
John Clearwater, of Lumsden.
Ivan Hodgetts, of Invercargill.
Hamish McCallum, of Invercargill.
Graeme Henry Wong, of Wellington.