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 in 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 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 it 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. When the project is complete, the 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.
Western Forest Products 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 meters is from Crown lands. The company has 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 and its products are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide.