A provincial agency is helping cover the cost of shipping northwestern waste wood that might otherwise be burned for use elsewhere.
Westland Resources of Terrace has a $216,158 contract with the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) to top up the cost of shipping fibre to the Harmac Pacific pulp mill near Nanaimo while NorthPac Forestry Group, also in Terrace, has a $279,749 contract to help ship out waste from the Kispiox area in the Hazeltons.
The fibre Westland is helping ship amounts to approximatley 22,117 cubic metres — roughly the equivalent of 440 logging trucks of mostly helmlock and balsam — and is from licences held by the Kitselas First Nation and the Kitsumkalum First Nation.
Those licences are in the Big Cedar north of Terrace, Clore south and east of Terrace, Wedeene south of Terrace toward Kitimat and Bish near Kitimat.
“Fibre is being removed from blocks that are currently being harvested by the licencees. The fibre logs are removed at the same time as the sawlogs, chipped locally at Skeena Sawmills, and then shipped [by barge] to Harmac Pacific,” said Brittany Dewar from Westland.
Prior to chipping, the logs will be stripped of bark and that bark then used by Skeena Bioenergy, the sister company to Skeena Sawmills and located right beside it, to make pellets.
“Without the FESBC funding, it would be uneconomic for the licencees to remove the fibre and it could be left and burned in slash piles,” she said.
While Kitselas and Kitsumkalum are covering most of the cost to deliver the fibre to the Harmac Pacific mill, FESBC provides a “top-up” amount to cover the difference between the cost to deliver the fibre and the price that Pacific is able to pay for the fibre, Dewar added.
“This top-up amount goes to cover part of the cost to load and deliver the fibre, as well as some additional supervision and administration costs.”
NorthPac’s contract is help ship approximately 18,355 cubic metres — roughly the equivalent of 367 logging trucks — of accumulated waste from the Kispiox Timber Supply Area in the Hazeltons.
The wood is being hauled to Kitimat and will then be barged to the Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Corporation in Howe Sound north of Vancouver.
Profitable logging in area is difficult because of the high volume of low quality fibre and lack of local processing facilities. Money earned from selling logs to mills isn’t enough to cover the cost of shipping low quality wood to pulp mills, so it is burned instead.
Gord Pratt, a forester who works with the FESBC, said these grants fulfill several objectives in addition to avoiding burning which adds to greenhouse gas emissions.
“There’s the employment aspect and that’s part of the government’s recovery plan,” he said of monies allocated for various purposes to kickstart the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet that employment objective, the projects are to be completed by the end of March.
Pratt added that a long term goal would be to have more fibre used locally but that for now, the grants help cover the gap companies experience in shipping costs compared to the revenue they can expect from lower quality wood.
“What we’re really trying to do in the long term is expand the radius where that wood is economically viable,” he said.