Western Forest Products invests $29M to grow value-added wood products business in B.C.
July 7, 2022 By Western Forest Products
Western Forest Products has announced capital investments totalling approximately $29 million towards its B.C. operations.
The investments are part of the company’s ongoing commitment to support value-added manufacturing on the B.C. Coast and grow its value-added wood products business, all while continuing to improve Western’s long-term competitiveness.
“We are proud to add to our ongoing investments in our manufacturing facilities on Vancouver Island with substantial upgrades that maximize the value of the wood products we process locally. With the use of wood in multistorey construction growing as a low carbon solution, we have invested in considerable research to determine how we can participate in this growth opportunity,” said Joel Fournier, vice president of Canadian manufacturing, Western Forest Products.
These capital investments represent an increase of $13 million over and above the $16 million of capital investments discussed in the company’s first quarter 2022 management’s discussion and analysis.
“Adding equipment that allows us to manufacture product lines used in glulam and mass timber building represents an exciting step forward for our company and employees, as we pursue growth while supporting the needs of our communities and planet. We are also looking forward to increasing our drying capacity by approximately 72 million board feet, which is an important part of the process in making higher value wood products,” Fournier added.
Specifically, the investments include:
- $12.3 million in a new continuous kiln at the Saltair sawmill in Ladysmith, B.C., allowing for increased capacity for continuous drying of lumber, while reducing energy consumption. The sawmill is the largest single-line sawmill on the coast of B.C. following the previous multi-phase strategic capital investment of over $42 million undertaken to modernize the sawmill since 2013. The facility has three existing kilns on site for drying lumber.
- $7.9 million at the Duke Point facility in Nanaimo, B.C., to optimize the centralized planer facility with new equipment, including a machine stress rated (“MSR”) lumber grading machine. The MSR machine provides strict lumber grade quality control with known values for strength and stiffness for lumber utilized in engineered products, including roof trusses, glulam and mass timber. The sawmill and planer have undergone a previous multi-phase strategic capital investment of over $45 million since 2015 to modernize the facility.
- $8.3 million in other capital investments in the Company’s B.C. operations, including new kiln control systems at the Saltair sawmill and our Value-Added Division in Chemainus, B.C. to increase supply of kiln dried finished products for customers.
“Western has deep roots in the community and plays an active role by providing significant employment and contributions. This investment further affirms the company’s commitment to Nanaimo, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership for many more years to come,” said Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo chamber of commerce president and CEO.
Each of these investments will serve to generate additional value from Western’s wood products. Work on these investment projects is underway and is expected to be completed by 2023.
“Investing to upgrade Western’s operations is great news for forestry workers, communities and the industry as a whole. These capital investments support our government’s vision to increase innovative, made-in-BC manufacturing and get more value out of every tree harvested,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests.
Western is one of the largest private employers on Vancouver Island with six sawmills and two remanufacturing plants, providing 3,500 jobs that support nearly 20 healthy and vibrant communities across the province.
“We are pleased with this investment in the future of the mill and our community. Western’s manufacturing facility is a strong economic driver, supporting numerous workers and their families while also generating business and benefits for vendors and contractors,” said Aaron Stone, mayor of the Town of Ladysmith.
These operational upgrades are an extension of the company’s significant investment in value-added manufacturing on the B.C. Coast. Since 2013, Western has invested over $450 million throughout its entire operating platform.
“These projects will strengthen our province’s position as a world leader in mass timber and developing value-added wood products. When we work together towards achieving clean growth, we are supporting our StrongerBC Economic Plan, helping to fill the jobs of tomorrow while building an economy that works for everyone,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
Leonard Krog, mayor of Nanaimo, added: “We welcome Western’s ongoing investments to manufacture wood products from sustainably managed forests. This type of investment helps sustain jobs and build a more prosperous future for the many in and around our community who depend on forestry.”
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