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Canadian mill – largest single line sawmill to service Australia

A Vancouver-based manufacturer of wood products has an ambitious plan to operate the largest single line sawmill on the coast of British Columbia. Source: Journal of Commerce

Western Forest Products plans to invest millions of dollars to upgrade the infrastructure at its facility on Vancouver Island.

Western Forest Products plans to invest $200 million. According to Iain Donaldson, the company’s manager of strategic planning and manufacturing, and the program includes investing $125 million in strategic capital and another $75 million in maintenance capital.

The first step of this capital investment strategy is the $16 million upgrade of the Saltair Sawmill in Ladysmith, British Columbia. The upgrade to the sawmill’s edgers, stacker and sorter will increase production by 15 per cent and decrease the per-unit cost of production.

The project includes a new stacker, sorter rebuild and extension, a new trimline and two new board edgers. It will take about a year to complete.

The Saltair mill currently produces about 160 million board feet per year by turning coastal mid-size logs into high value specialized products in Hemlock, Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar.

The mill employs about 140 people and ships product to Japan, China, North America, Europe and Australia.

Once the upgrade is completed in the second quarter of 2013, the mill will process more than 200 million board feet per year.

Donaldson said this capital project would make Saltair the largest single line sawmill on the coast of British Columbia. The last major capital investment at the Saltair Sawmill took place in the mid-1990s. The mill was built in 1972.