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Skeena Sawmills modernization delayed due to building condition

Terrace mill re-engineering the $10 million project after last winter revealed building weaknesses
Skeena Sawmills has purchased canter line equipment from Optimil Equipment, now being refitted in Prince George, and though Keery can’t say the exact timeline, his hope is to finish the canter line upgrade this year.

The $10-million Skeena Sawmills canter line upgrade has been delayed due to the poor condition of a number of old sawmill buildings, exposed during last winter’s periods of heavy snowfall.

Operations vice president Roger Keery said the mill is re-engineering its plans and has structural upgrades in mind for the existing sawmill building, which will take place before the mill moves forward with its modernization.

“We had some problems with old buildings over the winter,” said Keery. “With the snow we had, some of the weaknesses in our older buildings became obvious. Our original plan was to use the existing buildings, but we are rethinking that now.”

Engineers from McElhanney Consulting Services are meeting with Keery to look at re-engineering the project — deciding how to proceed.

“We haven’t finalized the exact details, but we can say we will be keeping most of the existing buildings and adding to the existing sawmill building,” he said.

Keery says they still aim to complete the project this year.

The mill plans to stick with the target $10 million budget, said Keery, but the company is flexible on a figure of up to $15 million.

READ MORE: Skeena Sawmills spending millions to modernize

A canter saw, which costs an estimated $7 million brand new, was bought used from Optimil Equipment. It is part of a whole line of equipment which will include log preparation machines like a de-barker and cut-off saw.

The rest of the budget will go toward electrical systems, high voltage power supply, building repairs, and in-feed and out-feed equipment.

Right now the canter line equipment is being refitted in Prince George to bring it up to new condition.

The work includes refitting and replacing electrical systems, testing and possibly replacing motors, overhauling the hydraulic systems and replacing any worn or broken parts, Keery explained.

As for the CT log scanner, Skeena Sawmills continues its testing at FPInnovations, a Vancouver-based industry and government agency for research and development.

“We did an evaluation of the scanner… but there’s still a number of unknowns about how well that would suit our log supply,” said Keery.

READ MORE: Log scannning pioneered to find flaws in timber

The mill has been considering the purchase of the new scanner since late-2016 and ran testing last spring. FPInnovations gave the mill another $200,000 grant to further assess the technology, which has not yet been used in the industry in B.C.

“The initial results looked promising, but not convincing,” said Keery. “It has some serious limitations that concern us right now.”

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