Western Forest Products Inc. recently announced the first project in their capital plan: a $16 million investment in the Saltair Sawmill. Western was joined by Steve Thomson, British Columbia’s Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, for the formal site announcement.

The Saltair Sawmill, built in 1972, converts coastal mid-size logs into high value specialized lumber products in Hemlock, Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar. This capital project will make Saltair the largest single line sawmill on the coast of B.C. and will provide upgrades to the edgers, stacker and sorters. The upgrades will increase production by approximately 15%, lowering the per unit cost of production, and improving competitiveness with global producers. Increased efficiencies with the upgrade will reduce mill bottlenecks, not only a benefit to productivity, but also to the safety of the work environment.

Western’s ability to provide a variety of products to a diverse customer base will ensure that they are able to operate through varying market conditions. Upgraded edgers will facilitate onsite production of prime sizes for the ever growing Asian market; a critical part of their customer profile which also includes Europe, Australia, and North America. Once the project is complete, a more competitive mill, that can absorb market fluctuations, will provide more stable and secure employment for the 140 existing mill jobs.

“With our improved financial results and a secure timber supply, both key to having the confidence to invest, we are taking the first step in our plan. Our capital planning focus now shifts to other high return projects that make up the remainder of our capital investment strategy”, said Dominic Gammiero, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.