PNG's Timber Barons: # 3 The Rimbunan Hijau Group

Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group (From"The New Timber Baron Report")

  • Number of concessions: over 40 since 1993 
  • Number of concessions operating 2019-21: 14 
  • Total log exports (2019-21): 924,631 cubic metres
  • Market share of all log exports (2019-21): 10% 

The Rimbunan Hijau Group is a multi- industry Malaysian owned company operated by the Sarawak- based Tiong family. It is one of the largest timber groups in Southeast Asia and was established in 1976. It is headed by Tiong Hiew King, one of Malaysia’s richest person. Rimbunan Hijau has a variety of interests in PNG and include mining, oil palm, retail, property, engineering, shipping, Tropic Air airline and the National Newspaper. Its operations span 15 different countries including Australia and New Zealand. There are more than 60 or more companies in PNG identified as being owned and controlled by the Tiong family or Rimbunan Hijau Group, of which 30 are connected to logging businesses.

While RH has historically dominated PNG’s log export market, its exports have significantly declined in the past five years. In the 2019- 2021, RH Companies still exported nearly one million cubic metres of round logs from 14 concessions, but the vast majority of these exports were in 2019- by 2021, the company was only exporting from four concessions (Amdru Johana and Awiu Amgen in West New Britain Province and Wawoi Guavi Blocks 1- 3 and East Awin Amuda Island in the Western Province). The reasons for this shift are unclear, although factors may include bad publicity surrounding its logging activities, increased investment of the proceeds in other less controversial sectors of the economy, the COVID- 19 pandemic, recent resistance to expansion in the new forest areas and increased audit oversight.

Update: 2022 Log Export Data

Latest figures released by the PNG Forest Authority show that in 2022, Rimbunan Hijau’s total Log Exports increased by 170% on 2021 to 300,000m3 and the number of logging concessions operated by RH increased from four to seven.