WoodWeek 20 May 2015
Today’s first story brings back a bit of hope that our biggest wood market, China, may now have bottomed out. With domestic log demand for structural timber holding, and Australia lumber demand down with currency issues, it leaves the market a bit soft apart from the report that off-take of excess logs at China ports is starting to look a bit better.
In describing a perennial challenge that has yet to be achieved, Associate Primary Industries Minister, Jo Goodhew, has been sprinkling fairy dust around with her words of inspiration - “added value”. These formed part of her upbeat speech to the timber design engineering annual conference last week. However, her comments do coincide with work commencing on Rotorua’s first inner city timber building following the announcement of Rotorua Lakes Council’s new Wood First policy, using innovative new wood products.
To be fair, Jo Goodhew is on a roll as she also announced the reboot of the popular Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) last week. Also this week, new government funding will be awarded to a Future Forests Research (FFR) led programme. This is a significant boost towards creating a high-value specialty wood products industry from planted forest species other than radiata pine.
An often hidden but vital market for significant wood volumes is pulp and paper. Scion is making moves to improve returns for these manufacturers as easier-to-process softwood brings economic and environmental benefits. Needing less energy, the pre-treatment processes will be faster, more efficient and less wasteful, yielding improved feedstock for the pulp, paper and biofuel industries.
Finally we tip our hat to the enthusiastic forestry leaders on the East Coast. At the 2015 BDO Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards Ceremony, Scott Torrie was the toast of the town as the newly-crowned Skilled Professional of the Year. He started his forestry career in 1990, and now has a record of learning that speaks volumes. In presenting the trophy, MP Anne Tolley said Mr Torrie had earned respect from his crews and peers, leading by example and taking the time to mentor and train others.
That’s all of the good wood news for you this week. Have a great day in May before the rain starts again.
This week we have for you:
Export log markets bottomed out?NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves - New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country's largest market.
The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ's monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.
The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. While inventories currently sit at about 4 million cubic metres, double normal levels, Chinese sawmills have stepped up demand, taking an average 65,000 tonne per day from the ports, leading to optimism that the bottom of the market has been reached and prices will now start rising, AgriHQ said.
"High take off from ports is a good indicator that ports will start to clear which will increase demand leading to prices returning to normal levels," said Emma Dent, an analyst at AgriHQ. "This isn't an overnight fix though; it will take some time for prices to get back to normal levels."
She said the latest survey showed people in the market expected prices may rise between US$5/JAS and US$10/JAS next month.
Demand for New Zealand structural logs remains steady, due to local demand for housing, particularly the shortage of houses in Auckland, Dent said.
However, prices for structural lumber dropped to $107 a tonne this month from $108 a tonne last month, weighed down by lower export prices and as a higher New Zealand dollar dented demand in the key Australian market, leading to an oversupply in the New Zealand domestic market.
Pruned logs continued to rise this month with the average price sitting at $161 a tonne from $160 a tonne last month. Average prices in the North Island at $164 a tonne continued to outpace the South Island at $148 a tonne due to tight supply in the Central North Island, Dent said. There were more pruned logs available heading into winter, she said.
Wood is New Zealand's third-largest commodity export, behind dairy products and meat.
Source: BusinessDesk via Scoop News
Forest planting scheme hints at potential in treesForest owners welcome the reboot of the popular Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) announced yesterday by associate primary industries minister Jo Goodhew.
“This is squarely aimed at pastoral farmers on steep erosion-prone land where the economics of production forestry might be marginal. It is an endorsement of the environmental attributes of forestry and will doubtless make a useful contribution to erosion prevention and the country's carbon ledger,” says Forest Owners Association technical manager Glen Mackie.
“Under the scheme up to 2500 hectares of new forest will be planted a year. If this is offset against current annual deforestation – based on industry estimates of around 10,000 hectares a year – the annual decline in planted forest area will fall to 7500 ha a year.”
Mr Mackie says there are safety and environmental challenges involved in harvesting of forests on steep erosion-prone terrain.
“So we also welcome the government's role in helping to fund research into steep country harvesting, as well as in trialling alternative species that may perform better than radiata pine in terms of maintaining the stability of hillsides in the three or four years following harvest.”
Mr Mackie says net afforestation was the norm in New Zealand for many decades, peaking in the 1990s. Since then new planting has fallen to low levels and in some years, large areas of existing forest have been converted to dairying and other land uses.
“In some cases, this is because new technology and irrigation have made dairying the most valuable use for this land. In other cases, especially on steep hill country, plantation forests are more profitable than pastoral farming for the country and the land owner, yet land owners are not planting.
“In large part this is due to land owner fears about government and local government policy changes during the growth cycle of a forest. Because these tend to disadvantage forest owners relative to other land users, investors factor in a higher level of risk into their decision-making.
“Commercial forestry has the potential to make a very much bigger contribution to the economy and the environment. We therefore urge the government to take a more holistic and long-term approach to its forestry-related policies so that land owners and investors have the confidence to invest for the long-term.”
New initiative to build high value wood exportsA new government funding awarded to a Future Forests Research (FFR) led programme is a significant boost to creating a high-value specialty wood products industry from planted forest species other than radiata pine.
Research and Development Manager Russell Dale says this funding partnership between industry and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is great news for New Zealand and backs the forestry and wood processing industry and the Government’s strategy to grow high value export focussed manufacturing industries.
“The benefits to New Zealand from this investment are huge. We can expect export returns of around $350M by 2030, growth in regional employment and opportunities for M?ori forestry and wood manufacturing in the regions,” said Russell.
Forestry and wood manufacturing collectively is New Zealand’s third largest export earner and relies largely on radiata pine, which is not well suited to some higher value applications.
Plantations of species, such as eucalypts, Douglas-fir, and cypresses, already exist in New Zealand but the opportunities to turn these resources into high value products sought by global markets have been limited by processing challenges, geographic spread and lack of scale.
“These species can supply markets that demand chemical free, stiff and attractive timbers from sustainable resources,” said Russell.
The aims of the FFR programme are to: (i) transform processing options for eucalypts, Douglas- fir, and cypresses to produce high-value specialty wood products; (ii) develop improved Eucalypt breeding stock that will overcome the current problems of growth strain, checking and collapse; and (iii) develop a new, naturally durable eucalypt and cypress resource.
The programme will benefit the country top to bottom, says Russell, and regional strategies will focus on ensuring the viability of this new industry.
“There must be sustainable harvests of sufficient volume from existing forests, or new forests, planted within economic range of processing plants to support local industry. Our key investors have existing routes to market through their international market connections ensuring the research is well aligned to market needs.
“Scientists, engineers, seedling producers, foresters and wood manufacturers will come together to develop new export-oriented opportunities that will make New Zealand a recognised supplier of superior, high-performance wood products,” he said.
The 7-year long research programme represents a total $13.8M investment comprising $710,000 pa from MBIE’s Biological Industries Fund, $710,000 pa from the forestry industry, $550,000 pa from Scion Core Funding and support from the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury.
The programme is set to start on 1 July 2015.
Ocean Freight IndexThe Baltic Supramax Index (BSI) closed yesterday at 625 points, an increase of 17 points (or 2.8%) since April.
The BSI (Baltic Supramax Index), published by the Baltic Exchange, is the weighted average on 5 major time-charter routes. It is based on a 52,454 mt bulk carrier carrying commodities such as timber.
Source: Capital Link Shipping
Record crowd celebrates Gisborne industry successesScott Torrie was the toast of the town last night as the newly-crowned Skilled Professional of the Year at the 2015 BDO Eastland Wood Council Forestry Awards.
He started his forestry career in 1990, and now has a record of learning that speaks volumes. In presenting the trophy, MP Anne Tolley said Mr Torrie had earned the respect his crews and peers, leading by example and taking the time to mentor and train others.
"The quality of this professional's knowledge of the industry, his leadership and problem-solving abilities enable him to get the best out of those he works with," said Trevor.
"A proven safety track record and quality of product produced indicates he directs his team to gain positive outcomes. He is committed to training and professionalism within the industry and has a good rapport with his employee and their clients."
Mr Torrie, who works for Dewes Contractors, was the ultimate team player on and off site, and was a sterling example to others in the industry.
Earlier in the evening, he won the Stihl Shop-sponsored Harvesting Excellent Award.
Also picking up two prizes were Blackstump Logging, who won the UDC Contractor of the Year Trophy and the Hikurangi Forest Farms Training Company/Contractor of the Year award.
Eastland Wood Council chief executive Trevor Helson paid tribute to everyone involved with the sixth annual awards.
"This event is for the guys on the ground," said Mr Helson. "It is a great motivator for them, and an opportunity for them to get the public recognition they deserve."
The industry was vital to the Tairawhiti region, contributing around $350 million a year, which would increase as volumes rise.
"We will be going from 2.5 million tonnes per annum to 3.4 million tonnes over the next few years. The vast bulk of that money that comes into the region through forestry is spent locally," he said.
With an employment multiplier of 2.4, it meant around 1600 people were employed directly in forestry, and one in four households in the region have someone whose job is dependent on the industry.
"Those numbers will increase too," said Mr Helson.
Forestry was an industry that called for a lot of money to be spent up front in planting, silviculture, nurturing the trees, harvest costs, trucking and more . . . and all of that was spent within the region.
"So much of our land here is erosion-prone and trees play a huge part in stabilising the land while also moderating the amount of water coming off the hills in a major storm event, so there is also that very strong environmental aspect."
Forestry also provided an income for land that was often not suitable for pastoral farming.
Mr Helson said the ongoing focus on health and safety was working, with far improved accident rates since the introduction of the new code of practice in 2013.
"We are not talking about mediocrity here," he said. "There are some very very good people out there in the forest and we want to show them and others, that we value them. There is tremendous opportunity for people who work in this industry - from those in the forest, to others in management, and so much more."
Chair of the judging committee Julian Kohn said there had been a high calibre of nominations for the awards.
"We were quite humbled by the great stories that are often portrayed by the nominators and the work that goes on behind the scene from these skilled forestry professionals," he said. "The quality of the work force in our forests is improving steadily."
The industry too continued to develop, albeit as it worked its way through "significant growing pains".
"That's likely to continue for the next five to 10 years until we get to a sustainable cut level. While our infrastructure, in terms of work force and physical assets, are better able to cope with the load, there is still a long way to go."
However, Mr Kohn said the wider community were benefiting more.
"There are less obvious ones like the environmental and leisure benefits," he said. "Hunters, hikers, bikers and campers are using the forests for recreational activities, and those are because the forests are maturing and people are more respectful when they are using them."
An audience of 500 people attended the award evening, which was held at the Farmers Air Showgrounds Event Centre once again.
Minister words to Timber Engineers worth notingLast week the Timber Design Society held it's annual conference quite fittingly in Christchurch - the earthquake stricken city that so very much needs new seismic solutions that engineered timber provides in many forms.
It was also fitting that the Minister for Primary Industries - Jo Goodhew - was their choice of guest speaker during the event.
It is worth noting some of the aspirational comments the Minister made in her address:
Moving into the next decade this is projected to increase by more than 40 per cent.
We can’t keep sending 50% of these logs offshore for processing.
Greater onshore processing has the potential to provide a significant boost to regional economies.
And a strong domestic sector will lead to a valuable export market for our forest resource. Together, we need to build on the significant industry investment in our domestic processing capabilities.
We need to continue the strong base of research and development by government and industry.
And we need to use these to keep innovating, keep growing and start attracting some of our smartest young New Zealanders into this state-of-the-art sector.
We have a long way to go.
We need to better understand the demand, drivers and trends in overseas markets.
We need to work harder to find the niche areas where New Zealand can compete.
And we need to clearly tell the sustainability and innovation stories of our wood industry.
By doing so we will move wood products out of the commodity basket and up the value chain.
FICA Managing Risk WorkshopsThe first workshop in FICA's Managing Risk in Forest Contracting series went off with fantastic feedback. Attendees were saying that the workshop was the best FICA had ever run.
Make sure you register now for the next workshop - Thursday 23 July in Tokoroa. See details below.
Garth Beker from Beker Findlay Allan will be leading these workshops, along with key speakers from TLC, Vero and UDC Finance and a presentation from SafeTree.
Garth specialises in the business of forestry, business systems, tenders, costings, pricing a proposal and the emissions trading scheme. He does evaluations of forest investment options, and forest industry contracts. Garth is also experienced in road transport contracting, information systems and driver management.
Anyone from logging contractors, to silviculture contractors to log cartage contractors would benefit from these workshops. You can expect to get interactive learning from the examples being discussed for your benefit, as well as tools to take back to your own company.
Included in the topics covered over the day will be market risk, forest demographics, geographic location, business management, insurance risks and risk through the eyes of a finance company.
Registrations are open now so make the most of this opportunity and register today. Call the FICA office on 07 921 1382 or download the flyer and registration form here.
Scion makes step towards easier pine pulpingRadiata pine that is easier to process into pulp and biofuel is one step closer thanks to a team of Scion biotechnologists working in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Easier-to-process softwood brings economic and environmental benefits. Needing less energy, the pre-treatment processes will be faster, more efficient and less wasteful, yielding improved feedstock for the pulp, paper and biofuel industries.
Led by Dr Armin Wagner at Scion, the team has just published its work proving that it is possible to change the makeup of lignin polymers in softwoods in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr Wagner, explains: “Lignin is a complex polymer that provides strength and structure in trees. In softwoods, like conifers, the lignin contains guaiacyl (G) units while hardwood lignin also contains syringyl (S) units. Lignin made up of G units is more condensed and difficult to degrade than lignin that also contains S units. This, together with the higher levels of lignin found in softwoods, makes trees like radiata pine more complicated and expensive to process than hardwoods.
“We have shown it is possible to engineer cells of Pinus radiata to produce S lignin units. This suggests it is possible to engineer softwoods, such as radiata pine, to produce easier to process hardwood-like lignin while retaining their outstanding fibre properties.”
Metabolic engineering allows plant breeders to introduce a single, clearly identified desirable trait into a population where it is not normally or readily available. The materials used in this work were obtained from naturally occurring organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and plants.
The paper is available here.
The corresponding author is John Ralph, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor of Biochemistry and Plants, Leader at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
Thanks to FICA SponsorsWe would like to thank all of the organisations who support FICA, which in turn works to promote business growth and improved safety and efficiency amongst forestry contractors for the benefit of New Zealand's Forestry Industry.
Carbon credits need careful study says consultantA revived grant giving foresters cash for planting gives the Government the most productive carbon credit-bearing years of a tree's life, an industry contractor says.
Forest owners have been offered a new version of an old scheme - a grant of $1300 per hectare for new forest planting. In return, foresters give up rights to carbon credits generated by the trees in their first 10 years.
The Government is putting $22.5m into the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) over the next six years to encourage planting of an expected 15,000ha of land. Under a previous AGS that lasted from 2008 to 2013, landowners planted 12,000ha.
Carbon Forest Services owner, Ollie Belton, said the re-jumped AGS was a "reasonably smart" move for the Government fiscally and good for landowners if they only wanted timber or a permanent carbon forest.
But if a landowner wanted to trade carbon and harvest timber, the scheme had a "couple of fish hooks", he said.
They could only earn carbon after year 10 and upon harvest they would need to repay most of the credits they had earned. The safe carbon stored in roots and soil post-harvest was attributed to government carbon so landowners were exposed to unknown carbon price at harvest, Belton said.
Belton, based in the Canterbury port town of Lyttelton, helps foresters set up carbon contracts. He said by paying a forest-planting grant (AGS) in exchange for 10 years of value from carbon credits, the Government had "locked in a carbon stream".
The Government would pay a grant of $1300 per hectare for the right to carbon credits generated in a tree's first 10 years. In effect, Belton said, they were paying about $8/tonne of CO2 (discounted at 8%) versus the current price of $5.75/unit.
"But of course the price of carbon may well rise above $8 over next 10 years so it could be a good move for government."
The first 10 years of tree growth "is where really fast carbon absorption happens", Belton said. Forest owners also needed to know they were liable to pay for the value of their carbon credits at harvesting, which was usually at 28 years.
To read the full story click here
Source: Stuff News
PwC: Slow but steady growth for forest productsEverything from shifting demographics to climate change affecting industry’s outlook.
Forget about a supercycle that’s going to boost lumber prices into the stratosphere. The recovery of British Columbia’s forest sector is now expected to be slow but steady growth.
That’s the view coming out of PwC’s Global Forest and Paper Industry Conference in Vancouver earlier this month.
“The general fundamentals are positive, but you’ve got to be patient,” said PwC partner Bruce McIntyre during a break in the daylong conference, which attracted 350 industry leaders from around the world.
Everything from changes in household formation in the U.S. – the condo and the urban lifestyle that goes with it are on the rise – to climate change and issues around resource scarcity will affect the global forest sector in the coming year, panellists told the conference.
And then for B.C., there’s the spectre of the return of the softwood lumber dispute. The 2006 agreement expires this October, and the U.S. lumber coalition is blaming Canada for current depressed lumber prices in its bid to squeeze more concessions in any future agreement.
“Nothing is ever a straight line in this business. It’s always a ragged recovery,” McIntyre noted.
But McIntyre and Kevin Bromley, Canadian leader of PwC’s paper and packaging practice, believe the B.C. forest sector is in a strong position to benefit from the recovery in the U.S.
Growth in the U.S. economy is forecast at 3% for this year. And U.S. housing starts were up 8.4% in 2014 over the previous year, which Bromley described in an interview as significant for the industry.
B.C. government statistics show the value of softwood lumber exports to the U.S. hit $299 million in March, the first time they have approached the $300 million threshold since 2007.
Source: Business in Vancouver
Rotorua's 'Wood First' inspires developerDeveloper supporting Rotorua’s ‘Wood First’ initiative with new inner city building - Work has begun on Rotorua’s first inner city building to support Lakes Council’s new Wood First policy, by use of innovative new wood products.
The council policy is aimed at encouraging use of wood products and supporting the district’s vital wood industry. Local developer Ray Cook of R & B Consultants, is taking the lead with the Wood First concept through a new design build and lease back of premises for tenants ACC, on a site R & B owns in Pukaki Street.
The move follows an initiative by council controlled organisation, Grow Rotorua, to approach local developers, architects and engineers about utilising more timber in their buildings - specifically engineered wood products (EWP).
Mr Cook said he had been exploring the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) on the project because of the site’s geotechnical issues - so the timing was perfect for him.
He said CLT panels are essentially giant tilt slabs made out of cross-laminated wood, as opposed to concrete. They are then computer machined to create floor sections, doorways, windows, service channels and connections, to order.
The panels are erected by cranes and an office complex can be enclosed in a matter of days, as opposed to several weeks with other methods.
Rotorua deputy mayor and Economic Growth Portfolio lead, Dave Donaldson, congratulated Mr Cook on his use of wood and his company’s support for the timber and wood processing industry.
“Ray’s lead will give some real momentum to our Wood First Policy and help turn its goals into reality. His new project for ACC will provide an excellent practical showcase for what can be done with wood in significant construction projects.
“Hopefully it’s the first of many more to come,” he said.
Mr Cook said the combined use of cross-laminated timber and laminated veneer lumber were quite new to New Zealand.
“They’ve provided a good opportunity for our company to construct a building using these new techniques. In Rotorua, people have shown an interest, but someone needed to be first to take the initiative,” said Mr Cook.
“We like to think we’re quite an innovative company and we like to be doing things first, so it’s great for us to have something else to trial and get some experience in. If they’re as good as they’re meant to be it won’t be the last time we use these products. I can foresee them also having some application in the residential market.”
Grow Rotorua CEO, Francis Pauwels, said the new building will attract wide attention in the construction, development and design industry.
“We want to make a documentary about the technical issues and challenges so that the project can be a learning tool in its own right for the wider wood industry and for Waiariki Institute of Technology wood processing students.
“We’re also speaking with other building investors to look at this fantastic timber material.”
Work on the new ACC building on Pukaki Street is expected to be complete in November.
Panelised prefabrication building expert to speak in Rotorua
For anyone interested in panelised prefabrication of buildings, Offsite Design Ltd managing director Johann Betz, will be at Rotorua Lakes Council on Wednesday (20 May) from noon to 1pm, hosting a free Wood First presentation.
Mr Betz's background combines structural timber engineering and design experience with practical and theoretical expertise on how to prefabricate timber buildings off-site in a factory. To register for the event, email Grow Rotorua commercial technology manager, Mark Smith, at email@example.com.
CTU names and shames stingy farmersFarmers seeking staff for the new milking season risk being named and shamed on social media if the money being offered in their job advertisement is below the minimum wage.
Outgoing Waikato Federated farmers dairy chairman Craig Littin revealed that trade unions were picking apart farm jobs placed on Fonterra's Farm Source website.
Littin told farmers at the group's annual meeting that unions were doing simple calculations around listed salary, hours worked and days off and posting them on social media.
"It's painting our industry in a really bad light," he said.
He urged farmers to take into consideration the total job package and think really hard about how the advertisement was perceived. He reminded the farmers to keep accurate time and wage records to ensure staff never fall under the minimum wage.
Littin said it was too easy for Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly to look online at the vacancies and then post any ads that were offering poor or illegal wages on her Twitter account.
Kelly was unapologetic with her stance. Most of the jobs on Farm Source were without remuneration but those that put detail of the jobs in were often paying below the minimum wage for the number of hours worked.
"There are heaps of jobs on there with hours that were far too dangerous and too long," Kelly said.
These included jobs where workers were expected to work up to 80 hours a week, which Kelly called "crazy".
"Some of them are paying $11-12 an hour and all I do is tweet them."
More>> http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/68509128/stingy-farmers-named- and-shamed-on-social-media
Pension fund selling USA timber investmentsThe California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has offered 120,000 hectares of commercial forestland in Louisiana for sale. The area of forest represents about 20 percent of their holdings in USA forestlands. A sale of this scale would raise several hundred million dollars.
The forestlands are managed by Portland, Oregon-based TIMO, Campbell Global. UBS AG has been hired to oversee the sales process. This pension fund is notable for being one of the largest institutional holders of commercial timberland in the USA. Many of its investments in the class are concentrated in the USA southeast with other holdings in Australia, Brazil and Guatemala. Speculation by media is that if a sale is successful concluded for this asset the fund may sell more considerably more areas of forestland in eastern Texas.
Source: Tree Frog
... and finally ... something really funny this week!
When young Kate found out she was pregnant, she told the good news to anyone who would
listen. But her 4-year-old son overheard some of her parents' private conversations. One day
when she and her 4-year-old were shopping a woman asked the little boy if he was excited
about the new baby.
Worried about getting the death penalty, a capo on trial for first degree murder had one of his mobsters offer a young blond woman on the jury $100 grand to hold out for manslaughter. Needing the money, she accepted the bribe.
Shortly after, the jury found him guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Once he'd settled into the prison routine, he called the juror to thank her. "Thanks so much for saving my life," he said. "I know that holding out for manslaughter must have been difficult."
"You're very welcome," she said, "And you're right, it certainly wasn't easy! Everyone else on the jury wanted to acquit you."
Finally ... do you remember the one about the inventor who went to the patent office?
… to register some of his inventions. He went to the main desk to sign in and the clerk at the desk had a form that had to be filled out. She wrote down his personal info and then asked what he had invented.
The inventor replied, "A folding bottle”.
"Okay, what do you call it?" the clerk said.
"A Fottle", was the reply.
"What else do you have?" asked the clerk.
" A folding carton," said the inventor.
" And what do you call it?" she asked.
The clerk sniggered and said, "Those are silly names for products and one of them sounds kind of crude." The inventor was so upset by her comment that he grabbed the form and left the office without even telling her about his folding bucket.
That's all for our mid-week wood news roundup.
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