A NORTHWEST forest company is on the verge of building a $40 million mill here to cut specialty-sized wood and to make pellets with what’s left over.
Coast Tsimshian Resources, the company owned by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation of Port Simpson, would build the facility on 20 acres of the company-owned Poirier log yard on the western end of Keith Ave.
Company general manager Wayne Drury said the plan represents Coast Tsimshian’s desire to move away from whole log exports.
As it is, Coast Tsimshian has built a $100 million business from selling logs to foreign and domestic users.
“A specialty mill where we can adapt our cuts means we can easily adapt to a customer’s needs,” said Drury. “It won’t be a huge, huge, huge mill but it will be very specialized and be very flexible.”
“We’ll be using the best technology in the world and that is available right here in B.C.”
An exact project timeline wasn’t yet available.
“I wish we could have done this yesterday. But this stuff always takes a lot longer than you think it would,” said Drury.
He said the company strategy has always been to move away from raw log exports by adding a value-added component that was economically viable.
The pellets to be made are of the white pellet variety, a growing product within B.C. and one that for the most part is exported overseas.
Drury said Coast Tsimshian has customers lined up for pellets it wants to produce.
Formed in the early part of the last decade, Coast Tsimshian Resources operated almost exclusively on the north coast until it bought Tree Farm Licence No. 1 from the bankrupt remains of Skeena Cellulose/New Skeena Forest Products.
That enabled the company to move into the Terrace area where it then established a log storage and sort yard at the Poirier log yard, also once owned by Skeena Cellulose/New Skeena.
Drury said Coast Tsimshian has been looking at ways to process its wood since the beginning.
“Our approach has always been a little bit different,” he said.
Coast Tsimshian, in 2008, was the first B.C. aboriginal forest company to open a sales office in Beijing so as to be in a better position to cultivate sales.
It then opened a debarker in Prince Rupert to strip not only bark but insects that lived within the bark away from logs to be exported.
The stripped logs entered China quicker as they did not need to be chemically treated first to get rid of insect and bugs.
Company officials were in China last week to develop more contacts and joined Premier Christy Clark’s tour briefly to be part of a contract signing ceremony.
“We’ve said that if we can be part of any initiative that builds relationships between China and B.C., we would take part,” said Drury.
“It’s an economic fact that if we all work together than we’ll all make progress,” said Drury of Coast Tsimshian’s philosophy.