Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 13 February 2012 -- Western Forest Products Inc. (TSX: WEF) announced today the first project in its capital plan, a CAD 16 million investment in the Saltair sawmill.
The Saltair sawmill, built in 1972, converts coastal mid-size logs into high value specialized lumber products from hemlock, Douglas fir, and western red cedar. This capital project will make Saltair the largest single line sawmill on the coast of British Columbia, and it 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, which will benefit productivity and ehnhance safety of the work environment.
Western’s ability to provide a variety of products to a diverse customer base will ensure that the company is 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 Western's customer profile, which also includes Europe, Australia, and North America. Once the project is complete, the mill will be more competitive and better able to absorb market fluctuations, providing a 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.
Western is an integrated Canadian forest products company and the largest coastal British Columbia woodland operator and lumber producer. The company has an annual available harvest of approximately 7.4 million cubic meters of timber, of which approximately 7.2 million cubic meter is from Crown lands, and lumber capacity in excess of 1.5 billion board feet from eight sawmills and four remanufacturing plants. Principal activities conducted by the company include timber harvesting, reforestation, sawmilling logs into lumber and wood chips, and value-added remanufacturing. Substantially all of Western’s operations, employees, and corporate facilities are located in the coastal region of British Columbia, while its products are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide.